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.

Now 70s and 80s Switch Places

Music channels Now 70s and Now 80s have swapped frequencies on the Freeview terrestrial platform. Now 70s has switched from the Greater Manchester (GMan) multiplex to the COM6 (Arqiva B) multiplex, with Now 80s making the opposite move.

As a result, Now 70s has increased its coverage area to most of the UK, with Now 80s restricted to the Greater Manchester area only.

The channel numbers have also changed, with Now 70s now on channel 76. Now 80s occupies a slightly higher position on the EPG, and can now be found on channel number 75.

Freeview Changes

Further to the previous post, Drama +1 has now replaced CCXTV on terrestrial platform Freeview, retaining channel number 73.

Speculation was that CCXTV was created to allow for eventual transfer of what was Create & Craft’s high EPG number of 23 to another channel. While this does appear to have been the case, unlike Merit which allowed a high position to transfer from ITV to Sky, CCXTV ran a near full time service, and had an active presence on social media.

The channel re-numbers have also taken place, but are far more extensive than previously reported. The full changes are summarised below.

Channel New EPG No. Old EPG No. Multiplex
Now 70s 75 78 Greater Manchester
Now 80s 76 83 COM7
Now 90s 78 84 Greater Manchester
Clubland TV 79 82 Greater Manchester
Together TV 82 87 COM5
Together TV +1 83 88 COM7
PBS America 84 91 COM6
PBS America +1 87 93 COM7
Country Music Entertainment 88 98 Greater Manchester

Freeview Shuffle Completes

The Freeview channel multiplex reshuffle has taken place, and in addition to the previous news posts, the following has now been confirmed.

A new video stream has opened on the BBC B (PSB3) multiplex, allowing Shopping Quarter to move without needing to replace an existing channel. Although not in HD, a DVB-T2 receiver (Freeview HD or Freeview Play) is required to view the channel.

Freesports, Now 80s, and Forces TV have moved to COM7, as per the original plan, and contrary to the most recent news post. The moves to COM 5 and 6 are still expected in the future, as these are the only channels (except HD and +1 duplicates) not on a permanent multiplex

Further Freeview Changes

Pick +1 has been removed from Freeview (around 12pm), and was broadcast on COM7, one of the temporary multiplexes.

I also have further information, though not yet confirmed by other news sites, that Freesports, Forces TV, and Now 80s are also moving from the temporary multiplexes. The expect changes are summarised below, and are due to take place on the 22nd June.

Channel (No.) Current Multiplex Expected Change
Forces TV (93) COM8 Move to COM6
Freesports (64) COM8 Move to COM5
Now 80s (86) COM8 Move to COM6

All three channels had expected to move to temp. multiplex COM7 when COM8 closes. However, these channels are one of only a few non +1 of HD channels broadcast on COM7/COM8, and the move to permanent multiplexes suggest that COM7 is also expected to close soon.