News

African Movie Channel Added to Channelbox

Channelbox, the streaming portal available on Freeview devices connected to the internet, has welcomed African Movie Channel to its line-up. It is the first channel of its type to launch on Freeview.

African Movie Channel operates 24×7, showing award-winning Nollywood movies, alongside the best movies from other parts of the African continent. This includes movies produced by its in house production company, AMC Original Productions, or AMCOP.

Channelbox can be found on Freeview channel 271, on compatible Freeview devices with an internet connection. Due to the way the Channelbox portal is broadcast, the service has a limited coverage area, and is not available to those who receive a relay service.

African Movie Channel is currently exclusive to Channelbox and Freeview, and is not yet available on other platforms.

Love Sport Fails to Score

Love Sport, the DAB station which broadcast initially to London, has now left the SDL National DAB multiplex. The station had broadcast on both MW and DAB in London, before expanding nationally using DAB+ with some of the capacity vacated by Panjab Radio.

The closure of the station was blamed on reduced advertising revenue due to Covid-19. However, with only 762 page likes on the station’s Facebook page, it would appear the station has struggled to compete with Talk Sport and sports coverage on BBC Radio 5 Live.

For much of 2019, the station was mothballed, broadcasting rock music and a recorded message from the station founder. The station ceased its separate DAB broadcast in London earlier in the year, before handing over the North London MW frequency to Asian FX.

DAB Expansion for Star Radio

Local FM station Star Radio, which broadcasts on 100.7 FM to Cambridgeshire, has expanded its presence on DAB. The station, which has an easy listening format, is now available on the Cambridge local DAB multiplex as Star Radio (Cam), and the Peterborough multiplex as Star Radio (PB).

Both of the new instances are mono, at 80 kbps using ‘original flavour’ normal DAB. As both instances are identified separately, there is scope to vary the output for local audiences, allowing for bespoke news bulletins and targeted advertising.

Additionally, the existing instance on the trial Cambridge multiplex has converted to DAB+. This means that the 128 kbps available space can now deliver higher quality sound, but older radios may only be able to access the mono version on the main Cambridge multiplex. The conversion may be a test/trial.

Ski TV Launches in UK

First launched in Australia, winter sports channel Ski TV has launched in the UK, becoming the first sports channel on the Channelbox platform.

Channelbox is portal accessible on compatible Freeview TVs and set top both connected to both an aerial and the internet. This can be found by navigating to channel 271, and provides access to news, movies, music and entertainment channels in a variety of languages.

All channels on Channelbox, including Ski TV, are available for free. It is unknown if Ski TV will join other platforms.

Amazon Prime on Freesat and New Partnershipe With Sky

The Amazon Prime Video app is to be added to the latest generation of Freesat boxes, providing another way for Prime Video customers to access the service. New customers will be able to sign-up via the app, and receive a 30 day free trial. The addition will enhance the hybrid offering, which includes a large selection of free-to-air channels delivered via satellite.

Sky and Amazon have also unveiled a new partnership, which will see Prime Video added to Sky and Now TV devices across Europe, including the UK and Ireland. In a return move, Now TV will be added to selected Fire TV devices and Smart TVs.

This means that Sky customers will be able to access all Premier League football matches shown live via their Sky Q box, with matches from BT Sport, Prime Video, and Sky Sports all being available via the platform. However, to do this a subscription will be required to all three services, which may be a costly exercise.

DAB Highlights

A number of DAB changes took place towards the beginning of December (2020), and here’s a run down of the main stories.

Around the 1st, Great Yorkshire Radio migrated from the North Yorkshire local multiplex, to the Lincolnshire multiplex. The latter has some over spill into parts of North and East Yorkshire, and the station appears to be refocusing to become a larger regional service for Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. DAB+ at 32 kbps is still used.

York Mix (initially as festive service Xmas Mix), has now joined the North Yorkshire DAB multiplex. The station is targeting the area previously served by Minster FM, which closed earlier this year. Similar (but unconnected) service This Is The Coast is also on the North Yorkshire multiplex, targeting Scarborough, Bridlington, and Whitby, all left un-served when Yorkshire Coast Radio closed. Both are using stereo DAB+ at 32 kbps.

On the Central Scotland multiplex, Scottish Sun Chill has replaced Scottish Sun Greatest Hits. The new service has an easy listening/pop format, and retains 128 kbps of joint stereo normal DAB. No other changes have occurred on this multiplex since Sunoh Radio left, but Central FM has been run in varying configurations.

Lastly, and perhaps the biggest change, is the launch of Union Jack Dance and Union Jack Rock, which took place on Friday 11th December. Both follow the same format of British music and comedy, with listener controlled playlist as Union Jack, but with dance music and rock music respectively. The same 32 kbps stereo DAB+ parameters are used, with Union Jack Dance replacing Jack Radio, and Union Jack Rock filling the vacant space on the SDL National multiplex.

Massive Price Hike for Disney+ Users

Subscribers to Disney+, the on-demand streaming platform for Disney owned content, are to face a massive price hike in 2021.

From the 23rd of February, the UK price will increase by around a third, from £5.99 a month to £7.99 a month. The annual price will become £79.90.

This is despite the platform extending Disney’s own expectations, reaching 86.8 million worldwide subscribers, since the roll-out which began in 2019 and reached the UK earlier this year.

Pop Player Now on Freeview Play

This story happened in November, but has escaped my attention until now.

On the 17th November (2020), Pop Player launched on most Freeview Play devices connected to the internet.

The new player provides on-demand content from Sony’s three children’s channels; Pop, Pop Max, and Tiny Pop. The player can be accessed via the portal on channel 100, or the Freeview Play button.

From launch, Humax 4000/5000t and LG devices were not compatible with the service.

Freeview Channel Number Shuffle

Some channels have changed number on Freeview. Although no channels have moved frequency, some equipment may require a retune for the changes to become visible (you may need to reset series recordings).

Starting with CCX TV, this channel has moved from 23 to 73. Dave Ja Vu (Dave +1) has made a similar move in the opposite direction, replacing CCX TV on 23, moving from 79.

A further 3 channels have made smaller moves. Jewellery Maker moves from 73 to 71. Shopping Quarter moves from 74 to 72, allowing Yesterday +1 to move from 75 to 74.

None of these changes appear to be as a result of a change in channel ownership, but Dave Ja Vu may give way to allow another UKTV owned channel to move to higher position in the EPG.