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.

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.

4 Music Returns to Freesat

Follow the return of Channel 4 HD and Box Plus Channels to Freesat, 4 Music has done the same. Due to the large proportion of entertainment programmes, 4 Music has been allocated a number in the general entertainment section and can now be found on channel number 181.

Technical changes needed to be made to facilitate the return. 4 Music was previously broadcast on a satellite transponder with a largely Europe wide beam. This led to the channel being encrypted, to protect the rights of broadcasters on continental Europe who show the same programmes as 4 Music. 4 Music has now moved to a transponder with a more restricted UK spotbeam, meaning that the encryption is no longer required. Following a brief period of testing, 4 Music has now been added to the Freesat EPG, a process which should be automatic for most viewers.

4 Music was last on Freesat in early 2018, when the channel was removed following a dispute over carriage fees between Freesat and Channel 4. Shortly after, all Box Plus Channels switched to a Europe wide transponder, and whilst most remained free-to-air, 4 Music became encrypted preventing that channel from being manually tuned in. Generic satellite box users will also now benefit from the return to Freesat, as the removal of encryption means the channel can now be viewed, although will need to be scanned in manually.

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).

Channel Numbers Confirmed for GB News

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.

GB News Channel Numbers

GB News, the upcoming new news channel, has now confirmed its channel numbers for Freesat and Freeview.

On Freeview, the channel will be on 236, below the current news channels, and is the COM6 multiplex which offers a coverage area of around 90%. The channel is broadcasting an information slate ahead of launch.

On Freesat, the channel will be on number 216, and will broadcast in HD. It is unclear whether a standard definition (SD) simulcast will be offered for those with older equipment. Like with Freeview, GB News will appear below existing news channels on the EPG.

Sky and Virgin Media channel numbers are yet to be confirmed. For Sky, GB News has the option of buying a channel number from an existing broadcaster, so may appear in a more prominent position on the EPG.

Integration Planned for Freesat and Digital UK

UK public service broadcasters BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 are planning to integrate Digital UK and Freesat. Digital UK facilitates the provision of Freeview TV services, whilst Freesat is the UK’s main subscription free satellite TV platform (not to be confused with the entirely separate Freesat from Sky).

This proposed move is intended to help ensure viewers continue to have access to a range of free to view TV platforms. Additionally, the move is also intended to help viewers benefit from technological innovations and developments across the two services.

The move requires regulatory approval, and should complete a few months after approval is given.

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.

ITV Regions Going HD on Freesat and Sky

All ITV regions will soon be available in HD (high definition) on the Sky and Freesat satellite platforms. The official launch of new regional HD service takes place on the Tuesday 20th October (2020).

This means a fully regionalised ITV HD service will soon be available to viewers in England, the Scottish Borders, and Wales. Until now, only some regions had a HD version of ITV on satellite.

As a result, ITV HD will move to the more prominent channel number 103 on HD compatible equipment.. On Freesat, ITV HD is currently on channel 111, whilst on Sky in regions with a HD feed ITV HD is on channel 176.

Viewers with older SD (standard definition) equipment will continue to find the SD version of ITV on 103.

BritBox Added to Freesat

The BritBox streaming service has been added to Freesat. The app is now available on the latest generation of 4K compatible receivers. Availability on older devices is not known.

An internet connection is required to use the app.

BritBox allows users to access archive and premium content from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5 on-demand, for a monthly subscription.