UPDATE / With Freesat under new ownership, Channel 4 HD returns after a multiple year absence following a disagreement over carriage fees.
Freesat users can now access the service on channel 126 of the channel guide. Channel 4 HD should automatically appear within the next 24 hours on most Freesat HD receivers, a minority may need to go through a channel scan.
The launch means Freesat can now offer all of the five main UK television channels in HD. It’s the first time since February 2018 that this has been possible and follows a deal that saw Freesat become part of Digital UK this summer.
Announcing the return of Channel 4 HD, Jonathan Thompson, Chief Executive Officer at Digital UK said it was “a shining example of what we are now able to provide viewers as a joint entity”.
At the same time, Channel 4 has also added five of its music channels to Freesat.
Statements from Freesat, Digital UK and Channel 4
Angie Mee, Director of Content Partnerships at Freesat, commented,
‘’It’s a delight to relaunch these popular channels on Freesat and we’re sure it will please our customers. Channel 4 has always been a great partner with its bouquet of channels, including Film4, E4 and More4, and we look forward to these additional channels joining the line-up at a time of year when families and friends are together.”
Jonathan Thompson, Chief Executive Officer at Digital UK, added
The return of Channel 4 HD and the launch of new music channels on Freesat is a shining example of what we are now able to provide viewers as a joint entity – more and better content. This early festive gift means Freesat customers will be able to enjoy all the world class programming that Channel 4 produces, as they sit around the TV with their family and friends.”
Karla Berry, Distribution and Platform Partnerships Leader, Channel 4 said:
Maximising Channel 4’s reach and impact with viewers through strategic partnerships is key to Channel 4’s Future4 strategy. With Digital UK and Freesat now one organisation we are excited about the future innovations and offerings we will be able to bring to all UK audiences.
Explainer / Channel 4 and Freesat – and what went wrong
Freesat launched in 2008 by the BBC and ITV to provide free-to-air satellite television without the need for Sky. Although not a shareholder, Channel 4 came on board, enabling households to receive all of Channel 4’s free-to-air services and later 4oD, which became All4.
The relationship went sour in February 2018, when a disagreement over carriage / EPG listing fees resulted in Channel 4 removing Channel 4 HD from Freesat. Weeks earlier, the Box Plus Network of music channels also removed its channels.
Just a few months later, Channel 4 signed an enhanced carriage deal with Sky. This included a comprehensive content-swap: Sky gained ongoing access to all Channel 4 services, plus enhanced access to All4 in return for Channel 4 receiving rights to selected live sports events.
On 2nd July 2021, the Sky-Channel 4 deal was renewed under revised terms, which is understood to include a provision for additional HD services, similar to an arrangement covering ITV’s HD services using Sky’s satellite capacity.
A week later, Channel 4 officially became part-owner of Freesat following a deal between the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 to bring Freeview and Freesat under common ownership.
The summer-time deals were widely seen as a precursor to Channel 4 re-adding its missing services to Freesat.
Why isn’t Channel 4 HD on Freesat channel 104?
Channel 4 HD is a currently a simulcast of the London advertising region. This means that during some ad breaks, the content on Channel 4 HD is different to Channel 4 SD outside of London.
Until the HD channel has the same regionality as the existing standard definition channel, it can’t appear on channel 104. Freesat users can therefore see C4 HD on channel 126, instead.
However, work to resolve this anomaly is understood to be underway.
In the meantime, Freesat users will see Channel 4 SD on channel 104 in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In Wales, Channel 4 SD is available on channel 106. Here, 104 is allocated to S4C.