Tuesday 1st February (2022) will see the return of BBC Three. The part time channel will return at 7pm, with a mixed genre format targeting younger viewers.
The channel will be available on Freeview terrestrial TV, Sky and Freesat via satellite, and cable through Virgin Media. As yet, channel numbers are yet to be confirmed, with the BBC stating that these will be confirmed at a later date.
Additionally, the channel will be available to live stream on internet connected devices via the iPlayer.
Pre-launch tests have already begun ahead of launch, using a promotional loop. These are being broadcast on satellite and terrestrial. The satellite transmissions are free to air and can be manually tuned, but the terrestrial transmissions are hidden so Freeview receivers won’t yet be able to tune in to the channel.
BBC Three will appear on the respective platform EPGs in due course. Except Freeview, this will happen automatically. Freeview viewers may need to retune, but should wait until the channel becomes visible before doing this.
Talk TV (stylised as talkTV), from Talk Sport and Times Radio owners News UK, is still on course for an early 2022 launch, as more details on programmes are slowly being revealed.
The channel is not expected to follow a traditional pure news format. Among programmes to be shown are a weekly news based satire show, along with documentaries, sports, and other entertainment programmes.
Existing Times Radio presenter Tom Newton Dunn is to move to the upcoming TV channel, whilst Peirs Morgan has been lined up for a flagship show on weekdays.
News UK have reiterated that the channel will be on major TV platforms and streaming services, but has yet to confirm which of these will broadcast the channel at launch.
The service is expected to be a rival for recently launched GB News, which started broadcasts in June 2021 on TV, before commencing DAB+ broadcasts earlier this month.
Perhaps the biggest story missed in the past week is that the regulator Ofcom have given approval for BBC Three to return to our screens. The part-time channel with return to terrestrial platform Freeview, cable platform Virgin Media, and satellite platforms Sky and Freesat. The channel had closed in traditional form in February 2016, with programming moved to the BBC iPlayer.
Sadly, as the previous channel numbers have been re-allocated to other services, BBC Three will have different channel numbers on each of the platforms, but platform operators are required by Ofcom to give BBC Three a prominent channel number. This means that BBC Three will appear near the top of electronic programme guides (EPGs), but channel numbers are yet to confirmed.
Platforms operators have 18 months to accommodate this, meaning that BBC Three may initially appear with a temporary channel number. On Sky, Virgin Media, and Freesat, it is expected that a channel number will be made available by the launch of full regionalisation of BBC One HD (high definition). This will allow BBC One HD to take the top spot on the EPG, allowing the standard definition to drop down to a less prominent number, thus freeing up a slot for BBC Three.
On Freeview, it is expected that all channels from 25 onwards will be moved down 1 number to accommodate BBC Three, except Dave Ja Vu (+1 version of Dave) which will move from 23 to 25. This will allow BBC Three to occupy channel number 23. In Scotland, BBC Four occupies channel 24, with that number left unused in other parts of the UK.
It is expected that BBC Three will make its return some point during February 2022, only a few weeks after the initial planned return month of January, despite the lengthy consulation. Satellite re-configurations have already been made to accommodate the channel. As the channel will share bandwidth with CBBC, the latter channel will revert back to a 7pm finish time, from 9pm.
Channel 4’s disruption following Red Bee Media’s server failure appears to be over, with music channel Kerrang returning, and the restoration of accessibility services.
Although not directly observed, it has been reported by some outlets that Kerrang had previously returned to air shortly after the initial incident, using back up facilities. However, the service was then taken back off-air as part of efforts to restore other services. Kerrang was the last of the channels in the Channel 4 owned the Box Plus Network to return.
The restoration of accessibility services mean that viewers can now access subtitle and audio description services where they would normally be available.
No doubt work will be in progress in the background, to build more resilient backup facilities. The level of disruption caused has been less than ideal for Channel 4. As yet, Red Bee Media have yet to reveal the exact cause of the disruption, but it would appear that an issue with fire suppression equipment led to accidentle activation, damaging playout servers.
Music/entertainment channel 4 Music has now resumed normal programming following disruption caused by playout provider Red Bee Media.
With efforts having focused on the main Channel 4 services, the music based channels (including 4 Music) in the Box Plus Network were at a lower priority, and took longer to return.
The Box was the first of these channels to return, followed by Box Hits. 4 Music simulcast The Box as a temporary measure for a few weeks, following this with a shorter simulcast of Box Hits.
When 4 Music finally returned, it carried a full 24 hour service of music videos, instead of the hybrid music and entertainment format that the channel normally broadcasts.
This finally ended on Tuesday (9th November 2021), when the channel resumed normal broadcasts, with shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina the Teenage Witch returning to the schedule. Rick and Morty, and The Goldbergs have also joined the schedule, with these having previously been shown on E4. In most cases, 4 Music are showing each series in order, starting with the very first episode of each.
In total 4 Music has faced around 7 weeks of disruption. It is understood that rock music channel Kerrang is still yet to return, and the launch of festive service Boxmas (which temporarily replaces Box Hits) is delayed. All other Box Plus Network channels have resumed broadcasts.
Viewers of Channel 4 and Channel 5 are continuing to face disruption caused by an incident at transmission provider Red Bee Media. Some BT Sport channels are also affected, as is the BBC.
Red Media Media provide playout facilities, forming part of the infrastructure that enables the channels to broadcast. An incident has caused damage to the servers which enable this.
The BBC were able to switch seamlessly to a backup service, allowing all TV channels to continue broadcasts as or close to normal. Channel 5 has also returned to air, with a black and white triangle logo in the right hand corner of the screen indicating the channel is using back up facilities.
Channel 4 and it’s sister channels (including the Box Plus Network) is experiencing the most disruption. The disruption varies from platform to platform, but E4 +1 is currently off-air on Freeview, and most Box Plus Network channels are simulcasting either The Box or Kiss. Online live streams are off-air, and viewers are reporting problems with sound and picture quality.
It is unclear what the exact cause of the disruption is, or when problems will be resolved.
As a result of the latest round of BBC cuts, the BBC Parliament channel has been suspended over the summer, coinciding with the national and devolved governments summer recess.
The suspension is a result of a reduction in the amount of programmes commissioned specifically for the channel, and sees a simulcast of the BBC News channel air in its place.
However, the option to reactivate the channel remains, in the event of a major political development during the summer break. The channel will return when the parliaments reconvene.
Sky is making a further change to its channel line up, with Sky One set to be closed, and two new channels launched in its place.
Sky Showcase will take Sky One’s current EPG slot and numbers, and will become a channel showcasing content from Sky’s entire channel portfolio, including its sports and film channels. It remains to be seen if there will ben overlap with the Sky Replay channel, which recently rebranded from Sky Two. It will be linear only, without an on-demand platform attached, something which is a rarity in current trends.
A new channel, Sky Max, will become home to the latest premium content from Sky, with drama’s such as A Discovery of Witches and COBRA, and comedy panel shows including A League of Their Own and the returning Never Mind The Buzzcocks, to feature on the channel. Sky Max will be available in both linear and on-demand forms.
Comedy shows Code 404 and Hitmen Reloaded, both previously on Sky One, will find a new home on the Sky Comedy channel, which is being updated with a revised programme line-up.
All three channels will be or are available to Sky, Virgin Media (cable), and BT TV customers. The changes see the end of a long history for Sky One, which launched in April 1982. At over 39 years old, it’s the oldest non-terrestrial TV channel in the UK.
All of the above changes will take effect from the 1st September (2021), alongside a wider reshuffle of channel number/EPG allocations. Additionally, NBCUniversal’s new Peacock streaming service will soon be rolled out to Sky customers across Europe later this year (2021), at no extra cost.
The full set of channel numbers for GB News has now by confirmed.
On the Sky satellite platform, GB News will be on 515, aquiring that number from Nigerian news channel TVC News. On the Virgin Media cable platform, GB News will be on number 626. This is in addition to the already confirmed channel numbers 216 for Freesat, and 236 for Freeview.
On Freeview, GB News will be in standard definition, while on all other platforms the channel will be in high definition (HD) only. For satellite viewers, this means users of non-HD devices will be unable to watch GB News.
The channel will launch on Sunday 13th June at 8am, with special programming to mark the launch.
Disney owned TV channel Fox is to close in the UK and Ireland, in the latest phase of Disney’s move away from linear TV to on demand streaming.
The channel is currently broadcasting via the Sky satelite, and Virgin Media cable platforms, but will close on the 30th June (2021). Some content is expected to migrated to Disney+, under the Star brand.
Fox had been available in the UK for 17 years, and the its closure in the UK and Ireland is the latest stage in its gradual withdrawal.