CGTN to Resume UK Broadcasts

Following the Ofcom licence revocation, Chinese international news channel CGTN will resume broadcasts in the UK.

An agreement pre-dating the European Union allows TV channels licensed in France to broadcast in the UK.

As CGTN has such a license, it will resume UK broadcasts in due course, once prepartions have been made to uplink the channel from France, a requirement of the licence.

Unlike the UK France does allow state controlled TV channels, but like the UK still regulates the output of the channel. This means CGTN could find itself back in trouble, if it does not stick to the rules in France.

BBC Channel Changes

While I was away, it was confirmed that BBC Three is returning as a linear TV channel, to the Freesat, Freeview, Sky, and Virgin Media platforms.

CBBC will revert to its original finishing time of 7pm. BBC Three will feature a strand of programmes suitable for 13 to 18 year olds from 7pm to 9pm. The return of BBC Three is scheduled for early 2021.

Although frequencies are available for the return of BBC Three, the original channel numbers have been reassigned to other services. It has not been confirmed which numbers BBC Three will be given, but as a BBC service, it will be given priority for a low number high on the EPG.

BBC Four remains, but will become an archive channel, and will no longer receive new commissioned shows. Some live art programming will remain, as part of the cost reducing changes.

End of Life for Lifetime

Premium channel Lifetime will leave the Sky, Virgin Media, and Youview powered platforms in the UK and Ireland, as the channel is closing at the end of the month.

Two sources offer different closure dates, with Media Mole suggesting 28th February (2021) in the headline but contradicting itself with March 1st in quote. TV Channel Lists opts for March 1st. A closure in the early hours of 1st March is most likely, meaning the 28th February should be the last full day of broadcasts.

Lifetime is owned by A&E Television Networks, and replaced The Biography Channel seven years ago. With a BARB average audience share of just 0.03%, the channel has struggled to attract an audience, lagging behind sister channels including free to air Blaze (0.29%), and premium channels Sky History (0.22%) and Crime+Investigation (0.16%).

The other channels will remain, with Lifetime content expected to be accommodated on the other channels. In other parts of the world, Lifetime continues to be available in Poland and Africa, although the outlet in Malta is also closing.

Screenshot of Media Mole article offering contradicting closure dates (click to view full size).

More Details Revealed on GB News

GB News, the proposed new news channel with backing from Discovery, will be on all major UK TV platforms, including terrestrial (Freeview including YouView based platforms), satellite (both Freesat and Sky), and cable (Virgin Media).

Infrastructure provider Arqiva has been selected to deliver the channel, and will oversee the launch and manage programme delivery. The channel should reach 96% of households in the UK.

A proposed launch date has not yet been revealed, but the channel is expected to launch this year (2021).

Premiere League Scraps PPV

The English Premier League has scrapped the pay per view (PPV) set up for additional football matches that would not otherwise be shown on TV, but are being made available due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most additional matches will now be shown on Sky Sports or BT Sport. A notable exception is Fulham v Everton which will be shown on the BBC, and will kick-off at 12pm on the 22nd of November.

The PPV service was criticised for being too expensive. Some clubs also criticised the cost, with Newcastle United suggesting a much lower £4.99 per match fee.

The situation will be reviewed in the new year, and highlights will continue to be available on the BBC’s Match of the Day programme.

Note: This story now falls outside of the scope for news articles on All About Digital TV, but has been included as a continuation of previous stories.

Virgin TV 360 Launches

Already available in the Republic of Ireland, cable TV operator Virgin Media have now launched their new Virgin TV 360 platform in the UK, to offer a “seamless connected entertainment experience”.

Customers can enjoy simple modern menus, quick navigation and their favourite channels and apps all in one place, including all major TV channels and streaming services such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix.

A new mini ‘set top’ box has been launched, complete with a new remote which features voice control. The Virgin TV Go app has also been updated.

Channel U to Return

Grime music TV station will return on 13th November (2020), and will broadcast grime videos and classic shows, along with the movie Against All Odds.

The original Channel U, later known as Channel AKA, first launched in 2003, spending 15 years on air prior to closure in 2018.

Availability is not yet confirmed, but the channel is expected to be available on Sky and Virgin Media.

ITV’s The Voice Resumes

Signing competition The Voice, one of many high profile shows to stop filming due to Covid-19, is making its return on the 3rd October (2020).

The entire series so far is being made available on catch-up service ITV Hub, with a special catch-up show to air ahead of the semi-final and final, later this month on ITV.

The semi-final and final will be pre-recorded in the coming weeks, and will feature a virtual audience.

BBC Red Button Service to Continue

The BBC will now continue the text based Red Button information service. However, there will be further reductions in the content available.

From November 2020, Lottery results will no longer be available on the Red Button. From mid 2021, English regional sport pages and individual sports’ headlines (except football and those on the main sport pages) will be removed. National sport indexes for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland & Wales, will be retained alongside all sport fixtures and results.

Additionally, the BBC News & BBC Sport connected TV apps with be withdrawn before the end of the year, as will the lottery and weather pages on connected TVs. Video content on these apps will be moved to the iPlayer.