New Director for BBC Scotland

Steve Carson has been appointed the new director of BBC Scotland, and will replace Donalda MacKinnon when she steps down later this year.

Steve Carson is currently the Head of Multi-Platform Commissioning for BBC Scotland, and is known for both content making and commissioning.

In his new position which he will take up in the Autumn, he will be responsible for leading 1100 staff who produce content across TV, radio, and digital platforms, in both Gaelic and English.

FA Cup Sets Viewing Record

The final of the FA Cup football tournament on August 1st (2020) between Arsenal and Chelsea was the most watched match of the season.

BARB data shows a peak of 8.2 million viewers watch the BBC’s coverage across all platforms, surpassing the 7.3 million for the semi-final match between Chelsea and Manchester United.

The top five most viewed football matches across the 2019-2020 season were all FA Cup games, and all were shown on the BBC.

Additionally, BT Sport also showed the FA Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea, and as the viewing figures are only for the BBC’s coverage, the actual number of viewers of the match will be even higher.

Major Businesses Donate Advertisment Airtime

On 31st July (2020) Channel 4 showed an exclusive ad break, during Cats Does Countdown on Channel 4, which saw airtime donated to six independent businesses:

  • Devine Flowers in Maidenhead, supported by Lloyds Bank
  • Jokoto Tailoring in Bristol, supported by American Express
  • Kool Kuts in Brixton, supported by Channel 4
  • Larch Green Alpacas, Glasgow, supported by Bought by Many
  • LV Property in Birmingham, supported by Rightmove
  • Seamus O’Donnells in Bristol, supported by Coca-Cola

American Express, Bought by Many, Coca-Cola, Lloyds Bank, and Rightmove each donated 30 seconds of airtime, with the remainder donated by Channel 4. The ad break was also shown on E4, Film4, More4, 4Music and catch-up service All4.

The aim of the ‘The Great High Street Comeback’ campaign was to help support independent businesses impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and show that the high street is open for business again

Eh, a News Post on a Wednesday? Merit Change

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.

Freeview Channel Changes

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.

5G Clearance Resumes

The clearance of Freeview terrestrial TV frequencies has resumed, in order to make way for 5G mobile phone signals. YouView users (inlcuding BT TV, Plusnet TV, and Talk Talk TV) are also affected, as these sevices incorporate Freeview services.

Viewers in North East Wales, North West England, and the Creetown, Gosforth and St Bees areas of the ITV Border region will need to retune on the 12th August (2020). Viewers in the Isle of Man and Kendal area will need to retune on 19th August.

In general, viewers receiving TV from a main transmitter (eg. those who recieve channels such as Dave and Quest) will need to retune from 6am. Viewers who receive a relay service (ie. only BBC, and the main ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 channels), will need to wait until early afternoon before attempting a retune.

In some areas, only some of the relays are affected, although short interruptions may still occur.

The exact method for retuning will vary depending on the device, although as the frequencies are changing, a first time installation, or full scan may be required. Consult the instruction manual or manufacturer for information on how to do this.

If you use a Freeview recorder or YouView device with recording capabilities, it is worth noting down what programmes are set to record, as some devices may reset series links (although previously recorded programmes are safe).

Normally, I would list the full details of the transmitters affected, but I don’t currently have this information.

Sky Arts to Go Free-to-Air

Sky Arts, an arts and culture channel from broadcaster Sky is to become free-to-air in September.

Not only will the channel become available to more satellite viewers, but the channel will also join the Freeview terrestrial platform, as confirmed by the Ofcom license published this morning (28th July 2020).

The Freeview multiplex is yet to be confirmed, but previous speculation has suggested Sky Arts may replace Challenge on Freeview, which is also owned by Sky.

The move follows the launch of several new Sky branded channels in recent months, as well as the re-branding of Pick to Sky Pick. Challenge is yet to re-brand.

New Merit Launch Date

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.

Merit Expected to Launch in September

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.

Further BBC News Job Cuts

The BBC is to make a further 70 job cuts in its news service, increasing to 520 from the 450 job losses announced earlier this year.

The increase in the job losses are a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has increased the financial pressures on the BBC. The jobs cuts include senior management positions.

Most of the BBC News output is being retained, but more content is to be shared amongst programmes both locally and nationally.

However, some high profile shows including the Victoria Derbyshire programme have been axed, although Victoria does remain as a BBC News presenter.