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.

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.

Fox to Close in the UK

Disney owned TV channel Fox is to close in the UK and Ireland, in the latest phase of Disney’s move away from linear TV to on demand streaming.

The channel is currently broadcasting via the Sky satelite, and Virgin Media cable platforms, but will close on the 30th June (2021). Some content is expected to migrated to Disney+, under the Star brand.

Fox had been available in the UK for 17 years, and the its closure in the UK and Ireland is the latest stage in its gradual withdrawal.

Virgin TV 360 Launches

Already available in the Republic of Ireland, cable TV operator Virgin Media have now launched their new Virgin TV 360 platform in the UK, to offer a “seamless connected entertainment experience”.

Customers can enjoy simple modern menus, quick navigation and their favourite channels and apps all in one place, including all major TV channels and streaming services such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix.

A new mini ‘set top’ box has been launched, complete with a new remote which features voice control. The Virgin TV Go app has also been updated.

Virgin Media delivers 2.2 Gbps broadband speeds

In a real world trial, Virgin Media has successful delivered 2.2 Gbps broadband speeds to homes in Thatcham, Berkshire, using its fibre rich network. The proof of concept trail showcased the speeds that can be achieved via its existing network, without the need for additional infrastructure.

The speeds were achieved using the Hub 4 router, already standard with Virgin Media’s Gigabit broadband service, already available to 3.7 million homes. The speeds were independently verified by SamKnows.

In the future, multi-gigabit speeds will allow households to instantly and simultaneously stream boxsets and video games instantly and simultaneously with resolutions of upwards of 8K, and carry out tasks such as video calls without any delay.

Youtube Kids Arrives on Virgin Media

Virgin Media has added YouTube Kids to its V6 TV platform, allowing a child friendly platform for streaming Youtube videos.

The app can be set for different age groups, allowing parents to customise the experience so it is appropriate to their children.

The app is available to Virgin Media subscribers with the newer V6 box. Users of the previous generation Tivo box will not have access to the app at this time.

Ireland: Virgin Pulls Channels From eir Sport

A dispute between Irish broadcaster eir and Virgin Media has seen Virgin pull Virgin Media Sport and Sport Extra from eir Sport at very short notice.

The row surrounds the non payment of license fees to Virgin Media who own the rights to show Champions League games on Irish television.

Virgin Media want the full amount owed under the contract, but eir are only willing to pay for games that actually take place.

Another Sky Rebrand

Sky Two is expected to re-brand on the 3rd September (2020) to Sky Replay. It is unclear what, if any programme changes will be made, but it would appear the channel will be used for repeats of programmes on other Sky owned channels.

Sky Two is currently available on Sky’s satellite platform, and Virgin Media’s cable platform, and is expected to continue on both platforms.