Helpfully, information has been rather drip fed, but more details have now been confirmed for Sky’s Freeview channels.
On Freeview, Sky Arts will be available on channel number 11, and will be broadcast on the COM5 multiplex, from the 17th September (2020) Sky Pick will move from channel 11 to channel 34, but will remain on the same multiplex. Depending on your equipment, a re-tune may be required.
It appears that Challenge is continuing, at the least for the time being. There is currently capacity on the COM5 multiplex, meaning that Sky Arts can be added without the need to close another channel.
Merit appears likely to close, once it has given Sky Pick the 34 channel number, but this has not been confirmed. Additionally, Sky Arts will also be available on Freesat channel 147.
It is being reported that the recently launched Merit has had its license transferred from ITV to Sky.
Under Freeview rules, channel operators cannot transfer or sell channel numbers. It appears that to get around this, ITV have created Merit in order to transfer the channel number to Sky.
Sky are planning on launching Sky Arts as a free to air channel, and Merit’s channel number could be used for the new Freeview version of the channel, possibly being combined within the bandwidth currently used by Sky owned challenge.
At this time, any potential development is simply speculation. Another scenario, given that Merit has focused on food, home, and gardening programmes, is that Sky may be planning on launching their own food or home related channel. Merit could end up forming the basis of this.
Although Merit launched on Freeview only, the channel has been broadcasting on satellite using CITV downtime, although did not join the Sky or Freesat EPG.
There are likely to be more developments in the Merit story.
Update: 23/08/2020. I’ve since learnt that Sky Arts is to take channel number 11, meaning Sky Pick would take 34 as this would be the highest Sky owned channel number. It is still unclear what will happen to Challenge.
I’m making a one off exception to the recently introduced news update schedule (i.e. new updates should occur on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays), as the Merit channel has thrown up a new development. The channel has moved to temporary multiplex COM7.
An onscreen message reveals the channel is back at 9pm, suggesting the originally reported broadcast hours of 9pm to midnight are in fact correct. The logo consists of orange text in a handwritten script font style, and does not follow the ITV corporate style, or feature the ITV logo.
I’m sure there will be more developments to this channel to report on in the near future.
From tomorrow (29th July 2020), some Freeview services are changing.
Ketchup/Yaaas (streamed service on devices connected to the internet) will be separating, becoming Ketchup on the existing channel number, and Yaaas on channel 212. This returns Ketchup and Yaaas to their original format, prior to merging as one portal.
A new channel Country Music Entertainment, will be launching on channel 98, and will be a 24/7 country music service. This channel will be on the Greater Manchester multiplex, so coverage will be restricted to the Greater Manchester area, but viewers others parts of UK with internet connected devices can access the streamed version via channel 271*. The streamed version is also in HD.
The Freeview website also states that new channel Merit is changing the way it is broadcast. The change is unclear, but this normally means the service is switching to a different multiplex.
In most cases, a partial retune or add new channels function should make the necessary adjustments for these changes to take affect on your device, but a full retune may still be required in some cases. Some devices may adjust automatically. Consult your device manufacturer if unsure.
*Update (29th July 2020): Thanks to Country Music Entertainment for letting me know about the streamed version of the channel.
ITV’s new channel Merit is now expected to launch at 8pm on Wednesday 29th July 2020, earlier than some expectations.
Details of the channel are still thin on the ground, but the channel is still expected to be a part time service. The 8pm launch time indicates that this is the regular start time, which is earlier than the 9pm to midnight timings previously reported.
Availability of the service beyond Freeview is still not known, although programmes should be available on the ITV Hub catch-up platform.
Contrary to previous reports, ITV’s new channel Merit has not yet launched, and is now expected to launch in September, according to www.terrestrialtv.uk. A placeholder is currently broadcast on channel 34.
It is unclear if the channel will launch on other platforms, and little about the channel has been confirmed. There is a possibility the channel will be exclusive to Freeview, like CCXTV.
More details will be confirmed here when I receive them.
ITV are launching a new part time channel tomorrow (8th July), triggering a channel number reshuffle.
Merit will broadcast from 9pm to midnight on Freeview channel number 34. ITV3 +1, currently on channel 34, will move to channel 58, in turn forcing ITV Be +1 down to channel 97. Both ITV3 +1 and ITV Be +1 are part time channels, which are likely to reduce hours to accommodate Merit.
The exact programme line-up is currently unknown, but Merit will specialise on cookery and gardening programmes. It is also unclear if the channel will join other platforms.
Additionally, Now 70s is returning to Freeview, still on channel 78, but coverage is limited to the Manchester area.