27 October 2009

News Multiscreen and 302 leave Freeview

The BBC News Multiscreen is no longer available on Freeview, and one of the platform's two additional ("interactive") video streams has been removed. In order to make way for future high definition services, the BBC has had to close 302 and scrap the video news service: HD services will be introduced on a region-by-region basis, but Red Button services can only be run on an all-or-nothing basis. Vacant streams will be sub-let on a regional, short-term basis.

26 October 2009

Viva launches on Freeview

Viva has launched on Freeview channel 21. Replacing TMF, which apparently was a music channel, you'd be hard pushed to tell it apart from the new station from MTV's previous offering.

24 October 2009

Arqiva advertise 2 new channel slots

Multiplex C and D operator Arqiva is inviting proposals for two new digital terrestrial television channels. It's unclear as yet when this new capacity will become available, but both are being advertised as full 24/7 slots. The closing date for applications is 30 October.

20 October 2009

302, News Multiscreen to close

The BBC will close the BBC News Multiscreen and the "interactive" video stream 302 on 27 October. In order to clear enough capacity to launch HD services later this year, the services are having to be scrapped. Despite the fact high definition channels will not be available nationwide from launch, it is impossible to maintain a full "red button" service in the interim. It's likely to be an unpopular move, especially after the fuss surrounding last month's retune event (in which many households lost ITV3 and ITV4). According to this press release, unused capacity will be sub-let.

Freeview HD to launch in London this year

High definition Freeview channels will be available in the London and Granada television regions areas by the end of 2009, with Glasgow, Newcastle, Birmingham, and Leeds/Bradford to follow by the end of Spring 2010, it has been announced. The BBC has recently signed a deal Arqiva have signed a deal to upgrade the new transmitters, and cleared multiplex B to carry the HD services.

14 October 2009

"Viva" to replace TMF

MTV are to replace TMF with "Viva", a new channel based upon the broadcaster's European channel of the same name. The new channel will launch on Monday 26 October.

13 October 2009

ITV scraps plans to sell SDN

ITV has scrapped plans to sell DTT multiplex operator SDN. The broadcaster had planned to sell off the company, which it bought back in 2005 for just under £150million, to focus on programme making and make the accounts look more favourable. SDN is estimated to make about £40million a year. ITV will now seek to raise cash through a bonds issue.

04 October 2009

Teletext text to close in December

Teletext have announced the closure of their core text services will be bought forward to December. As well as the Teletext services on ITV, Channel 4, Five and Freesat (analogue and digital), teletext.co.uk and their mobile website will also cease.

30 September 2009

8 in 10 TVs digital

Eight in ten UK television screens are beaming digital television into the nation's collective living room, according to the latest figures from Ofcom. By the end of June, there were 29.7 million DTT-enabled sets, of which 9.9 million were primary and almost 19.8 million were secondary sets. Freeview set-top boxes accounted for over 680,000 sales in the quarter, down 25% on last year (due to increased sales of digital TV sets, which have increased 41% year-on-year). Cumulative sales of Digital TV sets have now reached nearly 22 million and are likely to overtake those of set-top boxes (24 million) this year.

Retune Results

The nationwide shuffle of channels numbers and multiplex line-ups took place this afternoon. In order to continue receiving channels, most notably Five, everyone with a Freeview (DTT) receiver should retune.

As well as the planned changes, there were a few surprises. ITV2+1 has moved from Channel 27 to 33, presumably in preparation for the eventual launch of ITV1+1. A channel called News also appeared on channel 89, but little else is known about it. Top Up TV Anytime channels moved to channels 307 to 310.

Five has moved to a public service multiplex, giving it the same national coverage as the BBC, ITV1 and Channel 4; the "old" Five service may still appear on channel 800 for some viewers.

17 September 2009

Sweeping changes planned for 30 September

There will be a wide range of changes to the Freeview television service following the nationwide retune planned for September 30. Several channels will be switching multiplexes, changing channel numbers, launching and closing. Five will be moving to a public service multiplex (S4C already has).

Discovery's new channel Quest will launch; Viewers in England and Wales will lose ITV2+1 in preparation for the launch of ITV1+1; ITV3 and ITV4 will no longer be broadcast from relay transmitter stations; The Community Channel will close in areas that have already switched off analogue services, and many BBC Radio services will move muxes.

In addition, the following channel changes will take place:

36. Create & Craft
37. Price-drop TV (was 43)
38. Quest (was 47)
39. Super Casino (was 48)
40. Rocks and Co (was 49)

94. Smile TV 2 (was 33)
95. Smile TV 3 (was 37)
96. Babestation (was 42)
97. Partyland (was 50)
98. Television X

09 September 2009

Arqiva buys new encoders

Multiplex operator Arqiva has splashed out on some brand new encoding equipment, which it claims will allow it to start broadcasting two further channels on Freeview. The deal includes the Tandberg EN8100, which is supposedly a ruddy good piece of kit (technical term).

08 September 2009

Ymalen รข'r sioe!

All viewers in Wales will need to retune their Freeview receivers on September 9 in order to continue watching S4C Digital. The channel is switching to multiplex 2 (a public service multiplex) in preparation for digital switchover in the region.

25 August 2009

Arqiva complete Project Kangaroo purchase

Arqiva, the company responsible for the television transmitters carrying Freeview services (and operator of multiplexes C and D), has today completed its acquisition of video-on-demand service "Project Kangaroo". Developed as a joint venture by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, Kangaroo (also known as SeeSaw) was designed to be a subscription based service, until it was blocked by the Competition Commission earlier this year. Arqiva plan to launch a revised offering in the "coming months".

Sky 3 to showcase pay TV for a weekend

Sky 3 will carry a selection of programming from subscription television channels for an entire weekend in September. Shows from Sky, ESPN, MTV, Disney, Virgin Media Television, Fox, National Geographic, Turner and UKTV (amongst others) will be shown from Friday 18 to Saturday 20 September to give Freeviewers a chance to see some of the programmes that people with more money than sense pay TV regularly enjoy.

Mobilizer appears on Freeview

A new text service from Teletext has appeared on Freeview channel 109. Called Mobilizer, it promises "mobile fun 4 (sic) everyone".

Price Drop TV to return

Great news! Shopping channel Price Drop TV is to return to Freeview on Thursday, 27 August, according to a company press release. The channel, which has now lost its original channel number (24) will relaunch on channel 43.

08 August 2009

Virgin 1 to broadcast in 3D (sort of)

Virgin 1 will be showing a special "3D" episode of Chuck at 21:00 on 29 August. To enjoy it fully, you'll need a set of special glasses, which are being given away with a PPG (Paper Programming Guide) called "TV & Satellite Week". Other listings magazines are available.

06 August 2009

ITV still considering subscription switch

ITV are considering removing their digital-only channels ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 from Freeview and Freesat. Speaking at the company's annual results this morning, senior figures from the company said that moving the channels into basic subscription packages on Sky and Virgin Media could be the answer to their financial troubles.

05 August 2009

Quest to launch on 30 September

Discovery's new channel Quest will launch on Freeview on 30 September, according to reports. The new station, which aborted its last planned launch at the very last minute, is the first free-to-air Discovery channel in the UK.

04 August 2009

ESPN now available via Top Up TV

Digital terrestrial television viewers now have the opportunity to subscribe to ESPN via Top Up TV. Subscription costs £9.99 a month, subject to a £20 connection fee. Top Up TV customers and former Setanta Sports subscribers (who still have a viewing card) can get their first month's subscription free, and pay no connection fee if they sign up before August 31. For more information, call 08444 158158 or visit topuptv.com.

30 July 2009

"Remember to Retune" on 30 September

Freeview are to launch a campaign entitled "Remember to Retune" to inform and remind viewers that they will need to rescan for digital services on 30 September 2009, when there will be a shake-up of channels 'behind the scenes'. Although there will be no alterations to the Freeview channel line-up, Five, ITV4 and BBC Radio stations will be switching multiplexes.

28 July 2009

Nationwide re-tune planned for Autumn

Every UK household with Freeview (including those who live in areas which have completed the digital switchover) will need to rescan their receivers this Autumn in order to continue receiving Five and a whole host of other services that will move from their current multiplex location to another to make way for future high definition broadcasts. No precise date has yet been confirmed.

27 July 2009

HD receivers in the shops "by end of year"

At least two high definition Freeview receivers will become commercially available by the end of the year, according to the Digital Television Group. The specification for HD-DTT boxes was published back in March, with the first broadcasts are set to start on December 2 from Winter Hill. It has also been revealed that iPlayer integration is also being encouraged, and that the launch of a Freeview+iPlayer service is currently under development.

16 July 2009

Teletext teletext to close

Teletext will stop broadcasting its news and information service from January next year. The service, which is available via ITV and Channel 4's channels on Freeview (plus Five on analogue, too), is no longer profitable. Whilst the Teletext name will not disappear completely – Teletext Holidays will continue to operate – its departure from our screens will mark the end of an era in British television.

Update: It's also been announced that S4C's text service, Sbectel, will also be closing on digital from September and on analogue at digital Switchover (obviously).

15 July 2009

Big Deal appears on Freeview

Big Deal has appeared on Freeview channel 37. Broadcasting on multiplex D, initial reports suggest that the channel will be timesharing with Create & Craft on the newly-launched slot between 22:00 and 05:00.

13 July 2009

S4C to move to multiplex 2

Ar 9 Medi mae’n rhaid i wylwyr Freeview ym mhob rhan o Gymru aildiwinio eu hoffer i barhau i wylio S4C. Wedi 7, Pontypandy Llandudno, NEWI Cefn Driuds.

Freeview viewers throughout Wales must re-tune their equipment in order to continue to watch S4C from 9 September. The Welsh-language channel will be moving to multiplex 2 on that date, enabling those viewers who only have access to public service broadcasters' channels to watch, whilst also keeping room on multiplex B (its originally-planned home) for planned HD services. The move should also create space on multiplex A for Discovery's new channel, Quest.

09 July 2009

Discovery content leaves Top Up TV

Content from Discovery and Discovery Real Time is no longer available on Top Up TV Anytime. Downloads from the broadcaster ceased on June 30, and the channel logos were finally removed from the EPG today. To compensate lovers of factual programmes, content from National Geographic will temporarily be doubled to 12 hours a week.

04 July 2009

Create & Craft launches on Freeview

Shopping channel Create & Craft has appeared on Freeview channel 36. Officially launching on Monday 6 June, it is being carried in a brand new slot (the eighth) on multiplex D, and will broadcast between 08:00 and 13:00. The new slot will also be used by The Soviet Propaganda Channel Russia Today to broadcast between 18:00 and 22:00. There is no indication so far as to what other channels or services will make use of the spare capacity.

34. ESPN
35. Virgin 1+1
36. Create & Craft

29 June 2009

89.6% of UK homes have digital

Ofcom's quarterly Digital Television Update has revealed that 89.6% of UK households now have access to digital television on at least one set, and 61% have it on second or third sets, too. 3.4 million DTT receivers were sold in the first three months of the year, of which 2.5 million were integrated digital sets. In total, 9.8 million homes now use Freeview as their main source of digital telly.

28 June 2009

Create & Craft to join Freeview

Tat-peddling shopping channel Ideal World is to start broadcasting a new live service on Freeview. From July 1, Create & Craft will be available on channel 36, broadcasting five hours of live programming every weekday between 08:00 and 13:00. As yet, its unclear where the capacity for this new channel will come from, and what other channels (if any) will be sharing the slot.

Freeview HD launch date set

The BBC has announced that the first high definition broadcasts on Freeview will begin on December 2. Initially only available from the Winter Hill transmitter (serving Manchester and Liverpool), HD services will then be rolled out across the country as the necessary transmission equipment is upgraded. Viewers will need to purchase brand-new receivers to watch HD-DTT channels, which will be using new, more efficient transmission standards.

24 June 2009

ESPN begins broadcasting on DTT

ESPN America has started broadcasting on DTT channel 34, in place of star-crossed sports channel Setanta, which closed all British operations yesterday after being put into administration. The channel is currently only available to view to "current" Setanta and Top Up TV subscribers. According to Top Up TV, you can also start a new "subscription" to the channel, initially free of charge, provided you have the necessary equipment.

23 June 2009

Setanta ceases broadcasting

Setanta Sports has been put into administration. Following the appointment of administrators this afternoon, all Setanta-branded channels in Great Britain, including Setanta Sports 1 (channel 34) ceased broadcasting at 18:00 today. Subscribers watching on DTT are advised, via an on-screen message, to visit setantainfo.com, a website operated by Top Up TV; here, they are asked to register their details in order to receive information about any future "replacement sports service".

22 June 2009

Some sort of switchover report published

Consumer Focus, who are presumably a consumer rights group or some such, have published a report into the digital switchover programme in the Border region. In general, it went quite well: there were reception issues in the sticks, and a lot of householders who can only receive the public service broadcasters' channels were a little bit peeved at not being able to receive the full Freeview service.

Setanta on the brink

Setanta has lost all its English Premier League football matches to ESPN, and looks set to lose the rights to the Scottish Premier League to Sky, effectively signalling the end of the beleaguered sports broadcaster (and possibly the presence of premium sport content on DTT). Although ESPN have hinted at making their coverage available on as many platforms as possible, there's virtually no chance of Sky doing the same.

Update: ESPN plans to launch a new premium channel to carry its content; a carriage deal has already been struck with Sky, and the broadcaster is in negotiations with Virgin Media and BT Vision. A selection of games will also be broadcast in high definition.

19 June 2009

Setanta stripped of Premier League rights

Financially-troubled broadcaster Setanta Sports has been stripped of the rights to broadcast premiership football next season by the Premier League. The channel's owners were unable to make a £30million payment for next season's games today, thus defaulting on their deal. The rights have been put up for sale to other broadcasters with immediate effect. Sky is not allowed to bid for all 46 games, due to competition laws, but could grab half of them. ESPN is widely-tipped to pick up the remainder.

The news comes just hours after the possibility of a merger with Top Up TV was reported. It is as yet unclear if this deal has fallen through or remains on the table.

Spare switchover cash will pay for broadband

Any surplus cash from the Switchover Support Scheme will be used to invest in upgrading the UK's broadband network. Confirmation of the Government's plans was revealed in the Digital Britain report, published this week. They have pledged to provide 2Mbps broadband for every UK household by 2012.

Switchover begins on the Isle of Man

The Isle of Man has become the latest region to start the switch to digital television. In the early hours of this morning, analogue broadcasts of BBC Two ceased, to be replaced by a digital multiplex carrying BBC services. Remaining analogue channels will be switched off - and the full Freeview service will be carried on all of Man's transmitters - from July 16.

Switched to digital
Border region - Whitehaven (Nov 2007)
Border region - east (Nov 2008)
Westcountry region - south east (May 2009)

Switchover in process
Isle of Man

Next to Switch
Border region - west (June 2009)

12 June 2009

Top Up investor buys into struggling Setanta

It would appear that reports of Setanta's death may have been greatly exaggerated, after the news that Top Up TV investor (and US billionaire) Leonard Blavatnik has offered the broadcaster £20million in exchange for a 51% stake in the business. The cash, which will only tide the company over, rather than provide long-term financial support, comes just in time for Setanta, which has been staring down the barrel of an administration gun* for most of this week, and stopped taking on new customers on Wednesday.
*apologies for the terrible metaphor.

USA switches to digital... leaving millions behind

Millions of television viewers in the USA will be left staring at blank screens in a few hours (which, given the general standard of American TV, may actually be an improvement) when analogue signals are switched off nationwide and replaced with digital broadcasts. Rather than the (comparatively) drawn-out region-by-region approach currently underway here in the UK, the Yanks' digital switchover programme could leave 15% of the population without telly at the flick of a switch. The switchover was originally scheduled to take place in February, but was delayed to give consumers more time to prepare.

BBC World Service updated

Listeners of the BBC World Service can now access programme information and news headlines from Freeview channel 710, in line with the service offered alongside the BBC's other radio stations. The service went live on Wednesday.

Ofcom 'reserves' 4th HD slot for Five

Ofcom have awarded rights to broadcast in the fourth high definition Freeview channel slot to Five, it has been revealed. Five's bid beat a joint submission from Channel 4 and S4C, who have already been allocated a slot. HD services will start to be introduced on a regional basis later this year; the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 should be available from launch, with Five set to follow later.

02 June 2009

ITV considering switching to subscription

ITV has been in discussions with Sky over switching it's free channels – ITV2 (Britain's most popular digital-only station), ITV3 and ITV4 – to subscription services. Such a radical move, resulting from a sharp downturn in advertising revenues, would see the majority of ITV's services pulled from Freeview and DTT altogether.

23 May 2009

Film4 now starts at 11am

Film4 has extended it's broadcast hours by two as of today. The channel now starts at 11:00, allowing it to broadcast one extra film a day.

Setanta to show FA Cup Final on Freeview

Setanta Sports will broadcast their FA Cup Final coverage unencrypted next weekend, according to reports. This means Freeview football fans who can't tolerate ITV's annoying commentators and sub-standard coverage will be able to watch the cup final without turning the sound down/tuning the stereo to Radio 5 Live/having their enjoyment of the match ruined.

21 May 2009

Freeview considering "mass retune" for HD

There are concerns from "broadcast industry insiders" that the introduction of High Definition services on Freeview in time for the 2010 World Cup will confuse viewers so much that it will reduce over 18million householders to incoherent, whimpering wrecks, according to reports. It is true that the 'early' introduction of HD channels (which will require several multiplexes to be reorganised and several channels to switch frequencies) means Freeview viewers will have to retune in order to continue receiving services, but surely it's better to get it all done in one go, rather than the region-by-region approach (in line with digital switchover)?

20 May 2009

Virgin 1 goes 24 hours, +1 launched

Virgin 1+1 has launched on Freeview, and Virgin 1 will be broadcasting for 24 hours a day from today. Viewers will need to rescan their receivers to receive both new channels in their correct slots, for while the main channel remains on channel 20, it's actually changed multiplexes behind-the-scenes (from D to A). The timeshifted channel now occupies the original, 12-hour slot but can be found on channel 35.

Update: Virgin 1 is only available between 06:00 and 19:00 in Wales, because it's using the vacant slot originally occupied by Bid TV. Hence there are now ten streams being carried on the mux in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but still only nine in Wales:

1. Five
2. Five USA
3. Fiver / Television X
4. Setanta / Top Up TV
5. GOLD / Top Up TV...
6. Bid TV
7. Virgin 1 / CNN...
8. S4C Two / QVC
9. S4C
Rest of the UK
1. Five
2. Five USA
3. Fiver / Television X
4. Setanta / Top Up TV
5. GOLD / Top Up TV...
6. Bid TV
7. CITV / CNN...
8. QVC
9. Smile TV 2
10. Virgin 1

19 May 2009

Living, Hallmark and Sports Extra leaving Top Up

Living, Hallmark and Sports Extra will be leaving Top Up TV, according to unconfirmed reports. The changes to the service coincide with the addition of BBC programming and some changes to the Top Up TV Anytime electronic programme guide.

15 May 2009

BBC programmes added to Top Up TV

Top Up TV subscribers will be able to access comedy, drama and factual programming from the BBC from June 3. It's not clear at this stage how many hours of shows will be available, nor where the capacity to broadcast them will come from, but it certainly increases the range of content to Top Up's customers. Which is a good thing.

Virgin 1+1 channel number confirmed

Virgin 1+1 will launch on channel 35, recently vacated by Five USA, when it joins Freeview on May 20. Virgin 1 will become a 24-hour service on the same day, ahead of a mini-revamp on June 9.

14 May 2009

Freeview HD plans in doubt

ITV and Channel 4 are in negotiations with the BBC in a bid to reduce carriage fees for their forthcoming high definition channels to be broadcast on Freeview. According to reports, transmission and storage costs are also understood to be concerns for the commercial broadcasters.

Quest fails to launch

Discovery have postponed the launch of their first non-subscription channel Quest at the eleventh hour. Well, at 10:00 this morning actually, when the service was due to start broadcasting. Despite transmitting a preview loop, complete with channel DOG from the early hours, a "coming soon" caption appeared instead of the first scheduled programme. The channel has been delayed indefinitely "due to a number of commercial factors".

13 May 2009

Netplay, SuperCasino leave Freeview

SuperCasino and Netplay have ceased broadcasting on Freeview channels 48 and 49 respectively. The channels, which shared a 24-hour stream on multiplex A, have been removed to make way for Discovery's new channel Quest, which launches tomorrow at 10:00.

Smile TV 2 launches on Freeview (again)

Smile TV 2 has re-launched on Freeview channel 33, following a two-month hiatus. The station will broadcast daily between 00:00 (midnight) and 05:00, timesharing with Ideal World on multiplex D.

12 May 2009

Recycling "expert" states bleeding obvious

A "recycling expert" has claimed that the Switchover process will result in an increase in the number of television sets being dumped. Speaking to Materials Recycling Weekly - no, really - Scott Butler predicted that switchover, a process that encourages people to upgrade every single piece of television equipment they own in order to continue watching TV, would lead to people scrapping their old sets. People get paid for this sort of thing, you know.

Five and Smile change channel numbers

There has been a small shuffle of Freeview channel numbers today, coinciding with the reappearance of Smile TV 2. It would appear that the channel, which broadcast on channel 46 until March this year, has secured some capacity from Ideal World on multiplex D. Early indications suggest it will broadcast from midnight for a few hours daily. Viewers will need to rescan their receivers to receive the new channel list:

29. E4+1
30. Fiver (previously 36)
31. Five USA (previously 35)
32. Smile TV (previously 37)
33. Smile TV 2 (new)
34. Setanta Sports

08 May 2009

Film4 to extend hours

Film4 will start broadcasting two hours earlier from May 23, starting at 11:00 daily. The move, which will allow the station to show one extra film a day, has been made possible thanks to the removal of Gems TV from Freeview at the start of this month.

Freeview iPlayer, HD plans revealed

The roll-out of high definition services on Freeview has been brought forward, according to reports. It's estimated that 40% of households will be able to access Freeview HD in time for the football World Cup next June. Plans to launch the BBC's iPlayer on Freeview are also ahead of schedule, with expectations that iPlayer-enabled Freeview boxes will be available later this year.

05 May 2009

Software download breaks Top Up TV boxes

First-generation Top Up TV Anytime set-top boxes were rendered unusable by a faulty software download at the weekend. Subscribers to the on-demand service were forced to format or reset their boxes in order to correct the problem, losing all their recorded or saved programmes in the process. Top Up TV have apologised to those affected.

04 May 2009

Setanta "has a month to save itself"

Subscription sports broadcaster Setanta has one month to renegotiate contracts and bring in much-needed investment if it is to survive in its current form, according to reports. The company suffered a massive body-blow earlier this year when they lost half their Premier League football matches - by far the channel's most important asset - to Sky.

01 May 2009

Gems TV ceases broadcasting

Gems TV has ceased broadcasting on Freeview channel 43. The shopping channel was available between 09:45 and 12:45, timesharing with Film4, which is expected to increase its hours in the near future. Gems TV previously also broadcast on channel 44 ("Gems TV1"), but this rather limited evening service was removed last month to allow CNN to start two hours earlier.

30 April 2009

UKTV Style becomes "Home"

UKTV Style has become the latest UKTV channel to be re-branded. As of today, the channel will go by the name of Home. The channel is available to Top Up TV subscribers on channel 26 between 13:00 and 16:00 daily, and on demand.

27 April 2009

Fiver and Five USA on the move

Fiver and Five USA will change their Freeview channel numbers on May 12. Fiver will leapfrog it's sister channel, moving from 36 to 30, while Five USA will move from 35 to 31.

Virgin 1 to go 24-hours, +1 to launch

Virgin 1 will move to multiplex A and broadcast for 24 hours a day from May 20, it has been revealed. It's possible that it will replace Bid TV, which was previously operated by Virgin Media Television but recently sold off. The 12-hour slot it previously occupied on Multiplex D will be used to carry Virgin 1+1.

23 April 2009

ITV confirm intentions to sell off SDN

Beleaguered broadcaster ITV has confirmed that it has put multiplex A operator SDN up for sale, in an attempt to raise funds and focus the business on broadcasting. Analysts estimate the value of SDN at between £175m and £225m.

21 April 2009

Virgin 1 changes ahead?

A message on the Virgin 1 website suggests that some changes may be happening to the channel on Freeview next month. The notice advises viewers that they may need to retune their receivers to "keep receiving Virgin 1 on Freeview after 20th May".

08 April 2009

Betfair to launch Freeview service

Betfair are to launch a service on Freeview. The service was awarded a licence to broadcast on Freeview by Ofcom last week, and according to Betfair's 2008 annual report, it will provide "games and fixed odds overlays onto live TV sports broadcasts".

Switchover begins in Westcountry

The next stage of the UK's digital switchover programme began today, when analogue broadcasts of BBC Two were switched off from the Beacon Hill transmitter and its relays. According to some reports, this has left around 1,500 people without the channel, but that's because they haven't bought any digital equipment (and not because of any problems with the switchover plan). The remaining channels currently being broadcast in analogue will be switched off on April 22.

05 April 2009

Round-up: NHS Direct, CNN, Top Up TV

NHS Direct has been re-named NHS Choices and has had a mini-makeover. The service can be accessed from Teletext and on Freeview channel 100.

• As mentioned previously, CNN changed its broadcasting hours last week. Programming is broadcast between 19:00 and 00:00 midnight, but the stream on Freeview channel 84 continues until 02:00 showing a simulcast of SuperCasino. As a result, Top Up TV Anytime 2 now starts at 02:00 (one hour later than previously).

31 March 2009

CNN, Gems TV change Freeview hours

CNN will increase its broadcast hours on Freeview from tomorrow, 1 April, it has been revealed. The channel will now begin two hours earlier at 19:00, but stop one hour short of it's current end-time (from 01:00 to midnight). The move comes at the expense of Gems TV on channel 44, but the jewellery-hoiking channel will move over to Netplay TV on channel 49 and broadcast between 16:00 and 21:00. So everyone's a winner.

19 March 2009

Smile TV 2 leaves Freeview

The placeholder for Smile TV 2 has been removed from Freeview channel 46. The channel ceased broadcasting on Tuesday 17 March, just over six months after it launched. Trash-TV fans, fear not, however: to restore the delicate balance of tat currently being carried on DTT, Partyland (channel 50) is expected to launch on March 20, timesharing with Five USA.

12 March 2009

Partyland appears on Freeview channel 50

A placeholder for Partyland has appeared on Freeview channel 50 today. The channel is being carried on multiplex A, and was awarded a licence to broadcast by Ofcom last month.

07 March 2009

The Lowdown: Multiplex A

It's been reported recently that cash-strapped ITV are considering selling-off SDN, the company that operates multiplex A. It's a profitable business, but they obviously need the money.

In terms of the channels it carries, the number of "timeshares" in operation on these channels, and the regional variations between nations, multiplex A is the most complicated of all the muxes currently being broadcast in the UK. Here's a short guide:

First, a little bit of history. When the plans were being drawn up for digital television in the UK, it was decided to "gift" capacity to the analogue public service broadcasters (PSBs). The BBC were given a multiplex to themselves, ITV and Channel 4 were given one to share, but Channel 5, S4C and digital-only TeleG were given the rights to be carried on the commercially-owned multiplex "A". In the end, a consortium made up of S4C, Five's then-owners UBM, and NTL (now Arqiva) won the bidding process to operate the mux (under the name of S4C Digital Networks - SDN). ITV bought the company in 2005 for £134million (S4C have no involvement anymore).

Second, the channels. Five have been gifted the rights to 50% of the multiplex nationwide. Their half - which carries he bulk of Top Up TV's services and Setanta - carries the same channels nationwide; there are no regional variations.¹

S4C have also been gifted the rights to 50% of the multiplex, but only in Wales. They are entitled to broadcast their own channels in this capacity. The equivalent capacity in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland belongs to SDN, who lease this out to other broadcasters. Only one of these streams, Bid TV, is broadcast nationwide.

Neither CITV, Smile TV 2 nor NetPlay/Super Casino broadcast in Wales. After a great deal of jiggery-pokery, the capacity to carry the former has now become available, but there is no indication that the kids channel will be available any time soon. The absence of NetPlay and Smile TV 2 is because this space is used to carry S4C and its text and audio services. S4C Two timeshares with QVC.

SuperCasino is also absent in Northern Ireland. One reason for this is that gambling channels are illegal in the province; another could be that the space is being kept vacant for Gaelic channel TG4, which will be coming to Freeview when the region switches off analogue signals.

There are ten streams in total carried in England and Scotland. The only difference between the two nations' services is TeleG, which only broadcasts in Scotland for an hour a day (it's own gifted capacity), and timeshares with CITV/CNN et al. This Gaelic channel is expected to cease broadcasting come switchover, when BBC Alba will most likely become available (subject to approval from the BBC Trust).

Many thanks to Ray Cathode, who helped explain all this to me... twice.
¹Apart from the regional variations in advertising carried on Five.

05 March 2009

Quest to broadcast from 10:00 to midnight

Discovery's upcoming Freeview channel Quest will broadcast between 10:00 and 00:00 daily when it launches in May. According to reports, the remaining time will be sub-let to other broadcasters.

04 March 2009

Cardiff frequency may not carry DTT

Cube Interactive, the successful bidders for the rights to a small slice of spectrum in Cardiff and the surrounding area, may not use the frequency to broadcast services on Freeview, according to reports. It's suggested that they could attempt to launch mobile broadband services, rather than sub-let the space to broadcasters.

02 March 2009

History is history, as it's Yesterday today

UKTV History has been re-branded as Yesterday, er, today. The channel, which broadcasts between 06:00 and 18:00 daily on Freeview channel 12, will now show a broader range of programming.

24 February 2009

This week History, next week Yesterday

UKTV History will be re-branded as Yesterday on Monday 2 March, the broadcaster has confirmed. The channel broadcasts between 06:00 and 18:00 on Freeview channel 12.

EPG shuffle takes place

There's been a minor shuffle of channel names and numbers on the Freeview EPG today, as outlined below:

23. Bid TV
24. ITV4 (previously 28)
25. Dave Ja Vu (previously Dave+1)
26. UKTV Style
27. ITV2+1 (previously 31)
28. E4 (previously 29)
29. E4+1 (previously 30)
70. CBBC
71. CBeebies
72. CITV (previously 75)

23 February 2009

Dave+1 to become... Dave ja vu

From the ridiculous to the downright loopy... UKTV have decided to re-brand Dave+1 as – wait for it – Dave ja vu. See what they've done there? The change will take place tomorrow, along with a whole raft of other minor changes on the EPG.

ITV consider selling SDN

ITV are considering selling SDN, the operator of multiplex A, which it owns outright. It's thought that, if a buyer could be found, the sale could net ITV £200million - it paid £143million for the company back in 2002. The broadcaster has been selling-off non-core businesses since it was created out of the merger between Carlton and Granada, but there is some surprise that they are willing to let such sought-after DTT real estate slip out of their control.

One bid for Cardiff local multiplex

Ofcom has only received one application to operate services on the forthcoming local DTT multiplex in Cardiff. The city currently has it's own analogue terrestrial channel, Capital TV, but it is Cube Interactive and not Capital who have submitted a proposal.

Disovery Quest launches 14 May

Discovery's new Freeview channel Quest will launch at 10:00 on 14 May, it has been reported. The MHEG holding slide is due to be updated tomorrow with more information about the channel, which will be Discovery's first non-subscription service in the UK.

20 February 2009

Film4 to extend hours in March

Film4 will start at 11:00 from March, it has been revealed. The channel, which currently starts at 12:45 for a 13:00 start, timeshares with Gems TV on multiplex D. It also forms a key part of Channel 4's submission to Ofcom for HD capacity on Freeview.

Ofcom receive two bids for 4th HD slot

Ofcom has received two applications for the fourth HD channel slot to be made available via DTT, it has been announced. The first three slots have been awarded to the BBC, ITV and Channel 4; the latter has submitted a joint-bid with S4C to launch a hybrid children's and film channel (Film4 HD). The other proposal comes from Five, who offer to timeshare with another HD channel during the day.

19 February 2009

Mini-Reshuffle later this month

As expected, there will be a mini-reshuffle of channel numbers for ITV and Channel 4's digital channels on 24 February. According to the Freeview website, ITV4 will move from 28 to 24; CITV will move to 72 from 75; ITV2 +1 changes from 31 to 27; and E4 and E4+1 will drop down one space each, finishing on 28 and 29 respectively.

17 February 2009

Mini-Switchover on the South coast

Analogue broadcasts of Five will be switched off, and all Freeview multiplexes will move to new frequencies for 500,000 viewers in the western half of the Meridian television region next month. On 25 March, the Fawley transmitter will no longer carry analogue Five, and digital multiplexes from Rowridge will shift channels to avoid interference with digital signals from across the Channel. Switchover-proper isn't due to start in the region until 2012.

Gala Bingo to launch on Freeview? No.

According to this article, Gala Bingo's television channel, Gala TV is to be relaunched, with a possible Freeview launch on the cards. There's few other details at this stage, with no indication where the capacity will come from.

19 February update: Fear not, Freeview fans. Gala Bingo isn't on the way. The author of the original article mistook Freeview for Freesat, the new free satellite television service from the BBC and ITV.

16 February 2009

Five US becomes Five USA

Five US has been rebranded as Five USA today.

05 February 2009

Channel M awarded Manc DTT licence

In a not-at-all-suprising move, Ofcom have awarded the licence to transmit local digital channels in Manchester to Channel M, who currently broadcast on analogue terrestrial and cable in the area.

03 February 2009

Film4 moves to channel 15

In the first of several expected channel moves over the coming months, Film4 has today been moved from Freeview channel 32 to 15. Public Service Broadcasters' channels (ie: the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five) get priority over their purely-commercial rivals for lower (considered better) channel numbers under the official guidelines. Reports suggest ITV4 will move to channel 24 and CITV will shift to 72 in late-February.

DirectGov launches on Freeview

DirectGov, the Government's digital gateway to services, has launched a text service on Freeview, in conjuction with Teletext. The service is available 24 hours a day on channel 106, or from Teletext page 750.

02 February 2009

Russia Today launches on Freeview

Russia Today has started broadcasting on Freeview channel 85. The channel, which timeshares with Dave+1 on mulitplex D, will broadcast between 06:00 and 08:00 daily.

22 January 2009

Dave+1 launches on Freeview

Dave+1, a timeshifted version of UKTV's popular channel Dave, has launched on Freeview channel 25. The channel is carried on multiplex D, and will broadcast daily between 08:00 and 04:00.

Channel Islands to switch in 2010

The Channel Islands will switch to digital three years earlier than originally planned, thanks to the French authorities getting their act together. No official plans could be drawn up until the French had decided which frequencies they would use for digital television. The Channel Islands had been looking at a 2013 switchover date, but this has now been brough forward to November 2010.

15 January 2009

CNN launches on Freeview

American news network CNN has launched on Freeview channel 84. The channel, which carries CNN's International feed, replaces Nuts TV and will broadcast between 21:00 and 01:00 daily.

Dave+1 and Russia Today coming to Freeview

Is it April the first already? You could be forgiven for thinking so, because it's been confirmed that Dave+1 and Russia Today will be launching on Freeview. Dave+1 will be launching on a brand new slot carried on multiplex C, and will broadcast between 08:00 and 04:00 daily. The Russian propaganda news channel will share the slot, and will be on air for just two hours a day between 06:00 and 08:00. There's no news on what will fill the two hours between 4 and 6AM yet.

13 January 2009

Rocks & Co to launch on Freeview

Cheap-tat satellite television jewellery retailer Rocks & Co are advertising an imminent launch on Freeview on their website. According to the notice, the channel will be available between 16:00 and 21:00 "Soon".

CNN Internation to launch on 15 January

CNN International will launch on Freeview on Thursday, 15 January, according to the Freeview website. Available on channel 84 between 21:00 and 01:00 daily, the channel will be on air in time to cover the inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20. CNN International replaces Nuts TV on multiplex A.

08 January 2009

SuperCasino, Netplay TV launch

SuperCasino and Netplay TV have both launched on Freeview channels 48 and 49 today. The channels timeshare Price-Drop TV's old stream on multiplex A, from 21:00 to 06:00 to 06:00 and 21:00 respectively.

SuperCasino begins broadcasting

SuperCasino has commenced broadcasting on Freeview channel 48. Early indications suggest the channel will be on-air 24 hours a day.

06 January 2009

Quest, SuperCasino appear on Freeview

Placeholders for Disovery's new channel Quest and NetPlay's SuperCasino have appeared on Freeview channels 47 and 48 respectively. It would appear that the latter will broadcast video 24 hours a day, raising questions about the amount of capacity available on multiplex A: it has been expected that Quest would utilise the one advertised video stream, and that NetPlay would be a text service. SuperCasino is scheduled to launch on 8 January; a start date for Quest is unknown.

05 January 2009

Price Drop ceases broadcasting

Price Drop TV has ceased broadcasting on Freeview. The shopping channel launched back in December 2003, previously broadcast 24 hours a day on Freeview channel 24, but has been removed to make way for Discovery's new channel Quest.