Delays to Freeview Migration for BBC Four HD and CBeebies HD

The migration of BBC Four HD (high definition) and CBeebies HD to the PSB3 Freeview terrestrial multiplex has been delayed. With the temporary COM7 multiplex having now closed, these channels are currently unavailable, with information slates on the respective channel numbers advising of their imminent return.

This issue is relates to a capacity issue on the PSB3 multiplex. In its current form (or at least its form when the COM7 multiplex was in operation), there is no vacant space (or bandwidth) available to broadcast BBC Four HD and CBeebies HD.

BBC Four HD and CBeebies HD timeshare, with CBeebies HD running from 6am to 7pm, with BBC Four HD taking over from 7pm (in similar practice to how the standard definition versions broadcast on the PSB1 multiplex). Therefore, to enable both channels to broadcast, a single 24 hour video stream is required

This means that in order for both channels to broadcast on the PSB3 multiplex, either an existing channel needs to move or close, or technical changes need to be made in order to free up sufficient space for the video stream. The BBC, who control this multiplex, have opted for the latter, and it is these changes that were not made in time before the COM7 multiplex closed.

As yet, no completion date has been given for when these changes will be made.

BBC Channel Changes

While I was away, it was confirmed that BBC Three is returning as a linear TV channel, to the Freesat, Freeview, Sky, and Virgin Media platforms.

CBBC will revert to its original finishing time of 7pm. BBC Three will feature a strand of programmes suitable for 13 to 18 year olds from 7pm to 9pm. The return of BBC Three is scheduled for early 2021.

Although frequencies are available for the return of BBC Three, the original channel numbers have been reassigned to other services. It has not been confirmed which numbers BBC Three will be given, but as a BBC service, it will be given priority for a low number high on the EPG.

BBC Four remains, but will become an archive channel, and will no longer receive new commissioned shows. Some live art programming will remain, as part of the cost reducing changes.

Major Freeview Channel Number Changes

To allow for BBC Four to move to channel number 24 in Scotland, as per Ofcom requirements, many channels are about to change channel number.

On the 4th November (2020), all channels currently with a number between 24 and 54 inclusive, will move down 1 slot. Affected channels include ITV4 which moves from 24 to 25, and E4 +1, which moves from 28 to 29.

Additionally, as of 27th October, some channels move to a higher number. ITV Be +1 makes the highest move, from 97 to 57. Horror Channel moves from 70 to 68, which Quest +1 and Quest Red +1 also moving to 69 and 70 respectively (from 76 and 72).

As no channels are changing frequency, a re-tuned is not automatically required, although some receivers may need a full or partial re-tune to update the channel numbers.

COM8 Closure and Freeview Reshuffle

Temporary Freeview multiplex is to close on the 22nd of June, as part of the clearance of frequencies for future 5G mobile phone services. Some services are moving to the other temporary multiplex, COM7, whilst some +1 and HD (high definition) channels are closing.

Due to the nature of the channels closing, most viewers will be unaffected, as there is already and alternative version of the channel available. Additionally, the temporary multiplexes offer limited coverage on newer DVB-T2 devices only, further reducing the number of viewers affected.

Although some recievers may make some of the changes automatically, a re-tune is required in most cases, due to channels moving frequencies. A full re-tune will ensure you are viewing the correct version of the channel, as dual-transmission of some services will take place for a short amount of time.

The table below shows the full changes.

Channel (No.) Current Multiplex Expected Change
5 Star +1 (55) COM8 To close on 22nd June
5 USA +1 (56) COM7 To close on 22nd June
Freesports (64) COM8 Moving to COM7 on 22nd June
CBS Reality +1 (67) COM7 To close on 22nd June
CBS Justice +1 (69) COM8 To close on 22nd June
CBS Drama (71) COM6 To be renumbered to 67 on 22nd June
Shopping Quarter (74) COM7 Moving to PSB3 (BBC B) on 22nd June (replacing TBN UK?)
Now 80s (83) COM8 Moving to COM7 on 22nd June
Togther TV +1 (89) COM8 Moving to COM7 on 22nd June
PBS America +1 (93) COM8 Moving to COM7 on 22nd June
Forces TV (96) COM8 Moving to COM7 on 22nd June
BBC Four HD (106) COM8 Moving to COM7 on 22nd June
Channel 4 +1 HD (109) COM7 To close on 22nd June
4 Seven HD (110) COM7 To close on 22nd June
QVC HD (111) COM8 Moving to COM7 on 22nd June
QVC Beauty HD (112) COM8 Moving to COM7 on 22nd June
TJC HD (115) COM7 To close on 22nd June
Cbeebies HD (205) COM8 Moving to COM7 on 22nd June

As can be seen, CBS Drama is being promoted further up the channel list, taking over channel number 67 from CBS Reality +1 when that service closes.

Other platforms are unaffected by the changes.

Freeview Updates

Now 90s has left Freeview following the end of its 6 month carriage agreement. The channel had been on a multiplex covering around 3/4 of the UK. The channel is still on Sky and Virgin Media, and sister channel Now 80s can still be found on Freeview. Now 90s is looking to return to Freeview in the near future.

Meanwhile, BBC Scotland HD and BBC Four have changed channel numbers in Scotland. BBC Four can now be found on 75, and BBC Scotland HD is now on channel 108. The changes come as a result of the closure of Keep It Country, and the removal of the HD version of Al Jazeera.