Paramount Plus Reaches the UK

Paramount+ (Paramount Plus) has now launched in the UK and Ireland, and has joined a number of existing and established subscription video on demand (VOD) services available to viewers with an internet connection.

Paramount+ is home to a range of premium content from Paramount Global, the organisation formerly known as ViacomCBS. Paramount+ is home to new and original series such as The First Lady, movies including Transformers and Scream, and popular classics such as Grease.

The service costs £6.99 a month, and can be accessed on a number of devices including smartphones, tablets, TVs from Samsung, Android powered TVs, and Amazon Fire devices. An internet connection is required.

A promo loop on the website states an official launch date of 22nd June (2022), but despite this the service appears to be fully up and running today (21st June) (on-line via web browser at least).

Paramount Global also own MTV, children’s channel Nickelodeon, and Channel 5 in the UK.

Together TV Launches Online Streaming Service

Together TV, the community lead channel supported by several larger broadcasters, has launched a new streaming service

Initially, the channel is available on desktop, mobile, and tablet devices. More platforms will be added in the future, including over the coming months.

The new service provides an alternative way of accessing the channel for those affect by the recent reduction in availability on Freeview. Together TV remains available on satellite (both Sky and Freesat), and cable (Virgin Media).

A New Hybrid Future for Talk Radio

Talk Radio, the speech based station from Wireless Group (owned by News UK), will become a hybrid TV and radio channel with the launch of Talk TV. The development of the channel has been forming discussion for sometime, but there are now enough confirmed details for a full news article.

Talk Radio have been streaming an online TV channel Talk Radio TV for some time now. Largely, this comprises the same audio feed as the station on DAB+, with the addition of a studio video feed, and a scrolling news ticker. Daytime content will be carried over to the new hybrid service largely unchanged.


Screenshot of Talk TV website, 21/04/2022.

In the evenings, new primetime shows will be added, hosted by well known names such a Sharon Osborne and Piers Morgan. The audio for these will be rebroadcast on Talk Radio, but will be broadcast from new TV studios.

A website has now appeared online, but helpfully this only confirms the start date of the new Talk TV service, which is the 25th April (2022). Channel availability confirmed so far includes terrestrial Freeview on number 237, satellite platforms Freesat (217) and Sky (526), and cable platform Virgin Media (number not yet confirmed).

NB. All channel numbers confirmed are based on details obtained from platform websites or direct observations.

UK Government Pursues Channel 4 Privatisation

The UK Government has decided to pursue the privatisation of state owned broadcaster Channel 4, following a public consultation, which the move to form part of this years Queen’s speech in May (2022). Proceeds from the sale are expected to be shared amongst the creative TV industry, with independent production companies likely to benefit.

Channel 4, however, have responded calling the move disappointing, quoting “significant public interest concerns” over privatisation. According to the BBC quoting a government source, ministers have concluded that government ownership is holding the broadcaster back in a rapidly changing media landscape, despite the business currently performing well.

Channel 4 was created in 1982 in order to deliver programmes for audiences under-served by existing broadcasters the BBC and ITV, with the channel initially being associated with the various ITV regional franchises. Unlike the BBC, which is funded through the TV license fee, Channel 4 has relied solely on advertising revenue for income.

With the advent of digital television, Channel 4 has expanded with off-shoots such as Film 4, More 4, and E4, with latter responsible for brining popular American comedies such as The Big Bang Theory to UK screens.

The privatisation process is expected to take some time, as measures to find a buyer and clear regulatory processes need to be carried out.

W in a Slightly Different Place on Sky

Unfortunately, time has gotten the better of me lately, and updates have been few and far between. Apologies for any disappointment caused.

I had hoped to have posted about this over a week ago, but the now free-to-air UKTV channel W has changed channel number on Sky. Premium channel Albi has now been promoted on the EPG, and has taken over W’s prominent number of 109, with W now on 132. This updates the previous post.

Curiously, despite now being on Freeview channel number 25, W is still included within the TV packages of BT TV and TalkTalk TV, streamed via broadband on channel number 311 in both cases. This is despite both platforms piggybacking on Freeview terrestrial signals for free-to-air channels. However, this odd situation will still be of benefit to viewers in some areas, as most commercial channels are not available on Freeview relay transmitters.

In what appears to be a move to free up capacity on Freeview transmitters for W, the Together Channel has now been moved to the limited coverage COM7 multiplex. The community led channel is supported by other broadcasters with bandwith and programmes gifted to the channel. It is unclear where this channel will be accommodated on Freeview once the temporary COM7 multiplex closes in June (2022). Carriage on other platforms is currently unaffected at this time.

Colors and Colors Rishtey Join Sky Glass

Sky Glass, the streaming service from Sky based on their specialist TV, has seen the addition of two international channels, Colors and Colors Rishtey.

ABS Broadcast worked with IndiaCast Media Distribution to fast-track the launch of the two channels, owned by Indian joint venture Viacom18.

Despite being a product from satellite provider Sky, Sky Glass offers a more limited selection of channels than the satellite based service. Although structured in a similar way, two different sets of channel numbers are also used.

Colors and Colors Rishtey are the first additions to the Sky Glass platform since it launched.

BBC Three Relaunch Day Confirmed

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 On Course for Launch, but Still Vague on Details

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.

Sky Offer TV Without a Satellite Dish

On the 18th October (2021), Sky launched Sky Glass, a new way to access Sky TV without the need for a satellite dish. Unlike other Sky TV services, Sky Glass uses a specially designed TV, eliminating the need for a separate box. The new service utilises an internet connection, with a minimum speed of 10mbps to stream the channels, instead of a satellite dish. However, the TV can be connected to a terrestrial aerial, which functions as a backup only for a limited number of channels, should the internet connection fail.

The channel line up broadly mirrors that of the main Sky service, with all Sky Channels (including Pick and Challenge), plus those from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, ViacomCBS, Warner Bros. Discovery, UKTV, and BT Sport available. HD (high definition) channels are include as standard, including (for the first time on any platform) all BBC One regions in HD, and HD versions of 5 Star, 5 USA, and Paramount Network not currently in HD via satellite.

However, not all channels available with Sky’s satellite service are available on Sky Glass, as Sky has not concluded carriage deals with all broadcasters for inclusion on Sky Glass. Notable absentees are Freesports, GB News, Great TV and other Great branded channels, children’s channel Pop, QVC, and the Now branded music channels, amongst others. Some of these may be added in the near future, but Sky are yet to confirm this.

The usual Sky Q features, such as voice control and the pausing of live programmes are also included in the new Sky Glass TVs. However, unlike with previous Sky Q and Sky HD boxes, recordings are stored ‘in the cloud’ on a remote server instead of the users device. It is unclear what impact this will have, but this should enable users of the TV to access recordings on another device should the TV fail. However, Sky have not confirmed this. One drawback is that viewers will be unable to access recordings without an internet connection.

The new Sky Glass TVs are ulta HD (4K) compatible, and also feature Dolby Vision, 5 speakers, and a sub-woofer. This reduces the need for an external sound bar. The TV is available in 3 sizes; small (43″), medium (55″) and large (65″), and can be bought upfront or with the cost spread over 24 or 48 months. The TV costs £26, £34, or £42 a month respectively if spread over 24 months (not including the subscription). An ongoing Sky subscription is required to access most features, however. Sky will deliver and set up the TV, but although the Sky Glass TV can be wall mounted, you will need to arrange for this yourself.

Like Sky Q, Sky Glass can also be added to other TVs, using a device called Sky Puck. This is a set top box which plugs into your existing TV, costing £50 each. This adds a £10 surcharge to the subscription cost, but a single surcharge covers all Sky Puck devices. Unlike Sky Q miniboxes, the new Sky Puck devices are 4K compatible.

This is not the first time Sky have innovated with a new product idea. Sky has already successfully launched dish free services in Germany and Italy, but this has been with a more convential set top box based service. Time will tell if the new Sky Glass service is successful.

Channel 4 and Channel 5 Disrupted by Red Bee Media Incident

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.