As covered in mainstream media, a high profile dispute between the BBC and Gary Lineker resulted in significant coverage to football coverage of the weekend (11th/12th March 2023). The dispute resulted from opinions expressed on the presenter’s personal social media account relating to current government policy.Continue reading BBC Football Coverage to Resume
BBC Alba, operated jointly by the BBC and MG Alba, is now available on satellite in HD for the first time.Continue reading HD Upgrade for BBC Alba
The BBC has unveiled plans to extend part-time radio service BBC Radio Cymru 2, from 15 hours a week to 60 hours a week. BBC Radio Cymru 2 is one of three radio stations that the BBC operates in Wales; English language service BBC Radio Wales, and Welsh language BBC Radio Cymru and it’s ‘2’ counterpart.
Cymru 2 was first launched in 2018, on DAB radio, online, and digital TV platforms. The part time service typically broadcasts from 7am to 9am each morning providing a music based alternative to the speech content normally found on BBC Radio Cymru.
The move, however, is at odds with other BBC policy, which has seen successive cuts to BBC local and nations radio, particularly to local radio in England. Largely disguised under the cover of the Covid-19 pandemic, BBC local radio in England has seen increased programme sharing, standardised schedules, reduced travel bulletins, and a reduction in news based speech content.
Some campaigners online, particularly on social media, have also been quick to point out that the BBC is yet to provide any form of bespoke content for the Isle of Man, either on TV or radio, despite the Channel Islands having both local radio stations and local TV news on BBC One.
The intention is to implement the changes from the autumn, subject to regulatory approval.
The migration of BBC Four HD (high definition) and CBeebies HD to the PSB3 Freeview terrestrial multiplex has been delayed. With the temporary COM7 multiplex having now closed, these channels are currently unavailable, with information slates on the respective channel numbers advising of their imminent return.
This issue is relates to a capacity issue on the PSB3 multiplex. In its current form (or at least its form when the COM7 multiplex was in operation), there is no vacant space (or bandwidth) available to broadcast BBC Four HD and CBeebies HD.
BBC Four HD and CBeebies HD timeshare, with CBeebies HD running from 6am to 7pm, with BBC Four HD taking over from 7pm (in similar practice to how the standard definition versions broadcast on the PSB1 multiplex). Therefore, to enable both channels to broadcast, a single 24 hour video stream is required
This means that in order for both channels to broadcast on the PSB3 multiplex, either an existing channel needs to move or close, or technical changes need to be made in order to free up sufficient space for the video stream. The BBC, who control this multiplex, have opted for the latter, and it is these changes that were not made in time before the COM7 multiplex closed.
As yet, no completion date has been given for when these changes will be made.
With the limited coverage temporary Freeview (terrestrial TV) multiplex COM7 closing at the end of this month (June 2022), the BBC has now confirmed its plans for its high definition (HD) channels on the multiplex.
BBC Four HD, BBC News HD, and CBeebies HD are currently distributed on the COM7 multiplex. As yet, no dates have been given, but two of these will migrate to another multiplex.
The BBC have two multiplexes of their own, know as BBC A and BBC B (or PSB1 and PSB3). BBC A is used to transmit all of the BBCs standard definition channels, alongside national and local/regional BBC radio channels. The BBC are currently prohibited from renting out spare capacity to other broadcasters.
BBC B can be opened up to other broadcasters, and the BBC currently uses this multiplex to broadcast core HD services from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5, as well as broadcasting one or two standard definition channels.
The BBC have managed to find enough capacity on the BBC B multiplex for one full 24 hour HD video stream. CBeebies HD and BBC Four HD time share, with the former being available during the day, and the latter taking over in the evenings at 7pm. With these two channels sharing the same video stream, both can be accommodated on the new space found on the BBC B multiplex.
At the time of writing, some details are limited, but what can be confirmed is that CBeebies HD and BBC Four HD will now have a wider coverage area, with the BBC B multiplex being available from all main and relay Freeview transmitters. Theoretically, anyone with compatible HD equipment (eg. Freeview Play, Freeview HD, or DVB-T2 marked devices), will be able to access the two channels once the migration takes place.
BBC News HD will close on Freeview, presumably at the same time as the final closure of the COM7 multiplex, but will continue to broadcast on other platforms such as satellite. The other assumption at this stage is that all existing BBC B channels will continue broadcasting unchanged. No other details are yet available for other channels affected by the COM7 closure.
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.
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.
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.
BBC Radio Cumbria is joining digital radio for the first time next Wednesday, with the station joining the new Carlisle/North Cumbria and Morecambe Bay DAB multiplexes. Both multiplexes are expected to launch on 1st December (2021), and are operated by Bauer Media and Muxco Cumbria respectively.
However, unlike most BBC stations, and following in the footsteps of BBC Radio Guernsey and BBC Radio Jersey, the station will use the newer DAB+ format. Reasons for this are unknown, as the BBC have 128 kbps of space reserved on each multiplex, enough to broadcast in joint stereo using normal DAB.
There is some speculation suggesting that the BBC may use the Morecambe Bay multiplex to improve coverage of BBC Radio Lancashire to the north of that station’s coverage area. Speculation also suggests that the BBC may use spillover from the North Cumbria multiplex to broadcast BBC Radio Scotland on digital radio to parts of south west Scotland, but this appears less likely.
In any case, the use of DAB+ will mean that some listeners with incompatible DAB radios will be unable to access BBC Radio Cumbria on digital radio.
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.