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).

COM7 Closure Implications

The temporary terrestrial (Freeview) multiplex COM7 is set to close in June, to allow for the frequencies to be used for mobile phone networks. The frequency is one of those in the 700 MHz band that has now largely been cleared for %G mobile phone use, with the closure of COM7 to complete the process.

This will mean some Freeview viewers will lose some channels. I say some, as COM7 currently broadcasts to a limited area, and by using the DVB-T2 transmission method is only available those with compatible equipment (usually branded Freeview HD or Freeview Play).

COM7 currently broadcasts a mix of HD (high definition) and standard definition channels, largely HD simulcasts and plus 1 timeshifts. However, Freesports, Now 80s, That’s TV (UK version), ‘pop-up’ temporary service That’s Music, Forces TV, and the recently moved Together TV are all ‘unique’ to this multiplex.

In total, some viewers may lose up to 15 channels, on the assumption that no channels will be re-accommodated on other multiplexes. Exact changes are yet to be revealed (or at least to reach me), so the exact number of closures may change.  There is not enough spare capacity to accommodate all services on other multiplexes, so at least some will close.

It is up to the channel owners and transmitter network providers to decide who gets available vacant capacity. There is only one remaining DVB-T2 multiplex (BBC B/PSB3), and that is current full. This means the HD simulcasts will close, but may appear in the future if an existing multiplex converts to DVB-T2.

That leaves the standard definition channels, of which 3 are time shift versions of existing channels so are unlikely to be retained. That’s Music is a pop-up service, so will also close, leaving 6 channels needing capacity. It is unlikely that there is enough national capacity to keep all 6 on-air.

Time will tell if any of the services affected by the COM7 closure will continue broadcasting on Freeview, but most are available on other platforms such as satellite which are unaffected by the terrestrial changes.

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.

W Going Free-to-air

UKTV, part of the commercial arm of the BBC, is relaunching its W channel. As part of this, the channel is going free-to-air, and is joining the Freesat satellite platform, and terrestrial platform Freeview. The channel is currently a premium offering available to subscribers to Sky and satellite, and cable TV provider Virgin Media.

The move has been speculated for some time, but has now been confirmed by the broadcaster. Prior to confirmation, clue to the move have become far more visible, with a Freeview license issued by the regulator Ofcom, and the commencement of free-to-air tests on satellite. W and its corresponding +1 channel are now available on Sky without an active subscription.

From Monday 28th March (2022), W will be available on existing Sky channel number 109 (or 110 for viewers in Wales), and Virgin Media on existing number 125, as well as launching on Freeview number 25 and Freesat number 156.

As part of the launch on Freeview, a wider channel number shuffle will take place. 25 is currently occupied by Dave Ja Vu (Dave +1), which will move to number 74, currently occupied by Drama +1. Drama +1 will in turn receive a promotion to channel number 60, currently occupied by part-time placeholder ITV4 +1. No new number is yet available for ITV4 +1, but this service will likely move further down the order.

Depending on equipment, you may need to retune your Freeview TV or set top box to update the channel names on the channel lists. Some equipment will detect new channels automatically on existing stored frequencies, so will automatically pick up the new feed from Drama +1, and change names in the channel lists accordingly. W and Dave Ja Vu will be using existing feeds, so will not disappear without a retune, but your equipment may not update the service names automatically, so a re-tune may still be required.

S4C HD Joins Freeview at Expense of BBC Three HD

The high definition version of Welsh language service S4C has joined Freeview. S4C HD utilises bandwith (space) vacated each evening on the BBC B/PSB3 HD multiplex, when CBBC HD stops broadcasting at 7pm at the end of it programmes.

Unfortunately, this means that S4C HD can only broadcast for a limited time. The standard definition version remains broadcasting 24 hours a day, and can be found on usual channel number 4. Additionally, to give more time to S4C HD at the weekend, CBBC HD now hands over to S4C HD at 2pm. This means that CBBC viewers in Wales have to switch to the standard definition version of CBBC, in order to continue watching on Freeview.

Unfortunately, the new S4C/CBBC HD arrangement means BBC Three will be standard definition only in Wales, due there being no available space left on the BBC B multiplex. A similar issue prevents BBC Three from broadcasting on Freeview in HD in Scotland, thanks to a time sharing arrangement with CBBC HD and BBC Scotland HD.

BBC Three will be available in standard definition across the UK on Freeview, with viewers in England and Northern Ireland being able to access a HD version. A full article on BBC Three availability will follow in due course.

New Name for Paramount, Same Great Action

The Paramount Network channel is changing name tomorrow (19th January 2022). The channel will become 5 Action, but will otherwise continue unchanged.

Paramount Network currently shows original programmes including Trucking Hell, reruns of shows such as Police Interceptors, and a variety of movies. The channel forms part of ViacomCBS’s Channel 5 portfolio, alongside othe ‘5’ branded channels.

Previous changes saw Paramount Network merge with 5 Spike (launched originally as Spike). Paramount Network absorbed most 5 Spike programming, and inherited the most prominent channel numbers on the platforms it broadcast on.

The name change clears ViacomCBS to reuse the Paramount name for the forthcoming Paramount+ subscription streaming service. Meanwhile, the soon to be 5 Action will continue to be available on terrestrial (Freeview), cable (Virgin Media), and satellite (Freesat and Sky).

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.