BITE Launches in the UK

BITE (or as the author will now type it, Bite), has launched in the UK via Channel Box, a streamed channel on the Freeview terrestrial platform.

Bite specialises in programmes around fresh food, and plans to launch on Rakuten TV and other platforms in due course.

Channel Box can be found on Freeview channel number 271, in the areas covered by the commercial multiplexes, offering coverage to around 90% of the UK population. Viewers will need to have their Freeview box or TV connected to the internet in order to access the service.

Sky Content Changes

Sky is making a further change to its channel line up, with Sky One set to be closed, and two new channels launched in its place.

Sky Showcase will take Sky One’s current EPG slot and numbers, and will become a channel showcasing content from Sky’s entire channel portfolio, including its sports and film channels. It remains to be seen if there will ben overlap with the Sky Replay channel, which recently rebranded from Sky Two. It will be linear only, without an on-demand platform attached, something which is a rarity in current trends.

A new channel, Sky Max, will become home to the latest premium content from Sky, with drama’s such as A Discovery of Witches and COBRA, and comedy panel shows including A League of Their Own and the returning Never Mind The Buzzcocks, to feature on the channel. Sky Max will be available in both linear and on-demand forms.

Comedy shows Code 404 and Hitmen Reloaded, both previously on Sky One, will find a new home on the Sky Comedy channel, which is being updated with a revised programme line-up.

All three channels will be or are available to Sky, Virgin Media (cable), and BT TV customers. The changes see the end of a long history for Sky One, which launched in April 1982. At over 39 years old, it’s the oldest non-terrestrial TV channel in the UK.

All of the above changes will take effect from the 1st September (2021), alongside a wider reshuffle of channel number/EPG allocations. Additionally, NBCUniversal’s new Peacock streaming service will soon be rolled out to Sky customers across Europe later this year (2021), at no extra cost.

5Live Formula 1

The BBC has launched a pop-up channel offering live coverage of the British Grand Prix, the UK round of the Formula 1 (motor racing) World Championship being held at Silverstone.

Broadcasting using 64 kbps mono DAB, the station is available on the BBC National DAB multiplex, until sometime just after the conclusion of the racing action. Re-tune your radio, and scroll until you find ‘BBC R5LFormula 1’ in the stations list.

Multiplex Change for Shopping Quarter

Shopping Quarter, which as the names suggests is a shopping channel, has switched frequencies on Freeview.

The channel has moved from temporary multiplex COM7 to COM6 (Arqiva B). This expands the coverage area of the channel, and allows users of older standard definition equipment to view the channel.

A retune may be required if your equipment has not detected the change.

Correction: Shopping Quarter was in fact previously on the PSB3 (BBC B) multiplex. Although the move to COM6 has allowed non HD equipment to view the channel, coverage has reduced slightly.

Court TV Ends Freeview Transmission

Court TV, the specialist channel that broadcasts us trials and legal programmes, has stopped transmitting on the Freeview terrestrial platform. Although not publicised, it appears that the brief period of Freeview broadcasts was intended to showcase the Derek Chauvin trial, and transmissions on Freeview have ended as planned.

Court TV was broadcast on the temporary multiplex COM7, which only offered coverage to around 70% of the UK population. The frequency used to broadcast COM7 will be taken over by EE for 5G mobile phone services, although the date for this has not been confirmed.

Court TV continues to broadcast on satellite, via Freesat on channel number 177, and Sky on channel number 179. A live stream and on-demand content is also available on their website. An information slate now appears on Freeview channel number 89, ahead of final removal on the 22nd June (2021).

At the time of writing, Court TV are yet to remove references to the Freeview service from their website and social media feeds.

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.

United DJs Closes

Digital radio station United DJs has now closed down, having struggled to become financially viable. The service had been available online, and in a handful of locations on DAB (using the newer DAB+ format).

Some DAB changes have occurred as a result. On the Portsmouth small scale DAB multiplex, the removal of the station has allowed Passion Radio and 80s Rhythm to increase their bit rates to 56 kbps, and Sussex local station V2 Radio to increase its bit rate to 48 kbps.

All three of these stations use the DAB+ format in stereo, and although the closure of United DJs slightly reduces choice, listeners gain better sound quality from some of the services.

The Portsmouth small scale DAB multiplex is currently full, and bit rate increases or new services can only take place when a station leaves the multiplex.

Update – 25th May: Goldmine has also left the Portsmouth small scale DAB multiplex, although does continue to broadcast elsewhere. 80s Rhythm and Passion Radio have further improved sound quality, and are now broadcasting at 64 kbps DAB+ (at the time of writing).

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.

Sony Sells UK TV Channels

Sony, the Japanese electronics and entertainment company, has sold its portfolio of UK television channels to US investment firm Narrative Capital. The channels sold include the Sony Channel, Sony Movies, Sony Movies Action, and Sony Movies Classic which feature the Sony brand, and children’s channels Pop, Pop Max, and Tiny Pop.

The use of the Sony brand has not been included in the sale, and as such the Sony brand will be replaced with the Great! brand on the 25th May (2021). The Pop brand is expected to be retained, and the programme line-up is also expected to remain similar in the short term.

The current Sony branded channel line-up formed as recently as January 2020, when the True and Movies4Men brands were discontinued in favour of a rationalised channel line up under the unified Sony brand.