Free to Air Premier League

With the remaining Premier League football matches to be held behind closed doors, a number of broadcasters have announced they will showing games free to air.

The BBC will broadcast four games live, in addition to its Match of the Day highlights programmes. The channel to show these matches is not known, but is likely to be BBC One or the BBC Red Button service.

Sky owned free-to-air channel Pick will be showing 25 games live, with the first being Everton v Liverpool, which will also be simulcast on Sky Sports.

Amazon will be streaming 4 matches on its platform Amazon Prime platform, without the need for subscription. The exact matches are yet to be announced.

This leaves BT Sport as the only rights holder to have not announced any free to air coverage.

Including the free to air matches and those as part of subscription services, all remaining Premier League games will be televised live.

Sony Crime Channel to Close

Sony Crime ChanelThe Sony Crime Channel is to close on during the early hours of 10th June 2020, on its remaining platforms Sky (satellite) and Virgin Media (cable), as Sony focuses on its remaining movie and entertainment channels.

Although launching with a large amount of publicity, the channel had struggled to compete with its rivals, and has been downgraded. The channel had already lost its national Freeview (terrestrial) slot.

Sony Crime Channel launched in February 2018, and has lasted just over two years on the air.

BBC to Resume Production

The BBC is to resume production of Top Gear and EastEnders, two of its popular entertainment shows. Both are expected to resume at the end of the month.

Strict social distancing measures will be in force, complying with current government guidelines. Crews will be limited, with cast members responsible for their own hair and make up.

Additionally, ITV panel show Loose Women has also resumed production. Following social distancing, there are only three panel members at the table. The remaining fourth member contributes via video link. For obvious reasons, there is no studio audience.

Website Update

Apologies for the lack of updates here recently, personal commitments have got in the way.

Firstly, some housekeeping. Sister website Scott’s Radio Site will be closing at the end of May. Digital TV UK remains unaffected, but will be accommodating additional radio content, mostly relating to DAB radio, going forward.

Secondly, I’m monitoring the situation over at fellow TV website RXTV Log. That website took over some parts of a516digital when that website closed, initially running a social media news feed, before becoming a full website. ‘RXTV Dan’ had, on the most part run a successful website, and proved to be a strong competitor despite lacking some of the content which a516digital used to provide.

However, its has become apparent that RXTV Log has transferred to new ownership. Updates have slowed to a halt, and when they do occur, many updates come at once. The quality of the website does appear to have slipped. This has therefore given me a renewed enthusiasm, and updates will gather pace.

I have developed a mini action plan, which is as follows:

    • Transfer digital radio content over from Scott’s Radio Site.
    • Complete TV channel lists, including the creation of regional Freeview channel lists for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
    • Recommencement of news provision, most likely from mid-June.

These are the priorities going forward, and the website will be assessed against these at key stages. Additionally, due to the ever increasing numbers of streaming services, the website will focus on connected services such as Freeview Play and key catch up services (BBC iPlayer, All4, ITV Hub), and will no longer cover services such as Britbox, Disney+, and TV Player.

Further Sky Branded Channels to Launch

Sky Documentaries and Sky Nature are due to launch this spring, and will be joined by Sky History and Sky History 2.

Sky History is part of a joint venture between A+E Networks UK and Sky, and will be a rebrand of the current History channel. Both Sky History and Sky History 2 will be available on Sky’s Now TV streaming platform, as well as Virgin Media, BT TV and TalkTalk TV.

The changes are also due to take place this spring, with both channels to continue being operated and managed by A+E Networks UK.

Subscriber Losses for Virgin Media

Cable TV platform Virgin Media, owned by Liberty Global, has lost customers in both the UK and Ireland. In the UK, 110,900 subscribers were lost, while in Ireland the figure is 9,400.

Heavy discounting by rivals has been attributed to the subscriber decline in the UK. However, total revenue in the UK has increased.

Liberty Global have also seen a drop in customers in Belgium and Switzerland. In the UK, Virgin Media also provide internet, phone, and mobile services.

Sewing Street Launches

A sewing channel themed shopping channel has returned to Freeview channel 73, under the name Sewing Street. Sewing Street launched on Friday and is being operated by Gemporia who reacquired the Jewellery Maker channel from Immediate Media, after the latter decided to exit the TV market.

Channel 73 was previously home to Sewing Quarter which has now closed. Gemporia took over the Freeview slot, but not the Sky slot or the Sewing Quarter website. However, a Sky launch for Sewing Street is planned.

Sewing Quarter itself has now closed, but the management behind the channel have transferred to Sewing Street.

Financial Difficulties at Information TV Lead to Channel Closure

Information TV, owned by now collapsed parent company Carlauren Group Ltd, has been in financial difficulties since 2019. This has now led to channel changes.

Sports channel Front Runner has now closed. The channel was home to Greyhound Racing, which has moved to Live 360. Live 360 is available on Sky channel 175, and can be streamed on compatible Freeview boxes via Vision TV on channel 264.

Meanwhile, sister channel Showcase TV is transitioning to new satellite capacity, and is currently unavailable on Sky and Freesat, but is expected to return. Showcase TV allows smaller, niche broadcasters to book out blocks of time on the channel, enabling part time broadcasting.

Retro Movies Removed from Satellite

Retro Movies appears to have stopped broadcasting on satellite. Although still listed on Sky and Freesat EPGs, the satellite feed has went ‘dark’ with no programmes or other content being broadcast.

According to website RXTV Log, Retro Movies is still available as part of Channelbox on Freeview 271, as a streamed channel on devices connected to the internet.

There has been no official word from Retro Movies. Their website (at time of publication) is still live, but the schedule doesn’t list any programmes beyond Friday 24th January.

Talking Pictures, Sony Movies Classic and TCM Movies are alternative channels for those wishing to view older films.

Freeview Updates

There have been a number of changes to the Freeview service over the past few days, which are summarised below.

Taking effect from yesterday (Wednesday 8th January 2020), arts and craft channel Hochanda has reverted to broadcasting between 7am and 7pm on Freeview. The channel started broadcasting 24 hours a day in Autumn 2019, but the cost of extended hours of carriage on Freeview has proven unsustainable.

PBS America has now completely its frequency move, and is now available to 90% of the population on channel 91. As previously announced Paramount Network and 5Spike have now merged into the new version of Paramount Network. Sony Movies Classic has replaced seasonal channel Sony Movies Christmas, with a corresponding change to the +1 channel.

Paramount Network +1 has launched on channel 94, and CBS Justice +1 has launched on channel 69. Both are on the soon to close temporary multiplexes, so have limited coverage and are only available on DVB-T2 (HD, Freeview Play etc) equipment.

Smithsonian Channel (Smithsonian and ViacomCBS joint venture) has changed channel number to 57, and also frequency, meaning the channel now reaches 90% of the population. 5Select has moved up 1 slot to become channel 54, with similar moves for 5Star +1 (now on 55), and 5USA +1 (now on 56).