Explainer / Some Freeview users in Northern Ireland may find Sky News twice in their channel list from today. The new version will be in better quality than the original.
As reported last week, Sky News is now available via Ireland’s Saorview terrestrial TV platform. This is now available via every TV transmitter in the Republic of Ireland, including relays. Users of a Saorview approved TV or receiver will see the channel on slot 23. But it’s also available to certain Freeview users north of the border.
In Northern Ireland, viewers with a Freeview HD or Freeview Play compatible device may also be able to receive the channel. Sky News is already broadcasting on Freeview channel 233. But for viewers within range of transmitters serving the Republic of Ireland, a second copy of Sky News may appear after retuning. Depending on the device, it will allocate this second copy of Sky News in the 800-899 channel range. That’s the channel range assigned to out-of-area channels on Freeview, and viewers may also see other Irish TV channels in this range.
Sky News carried on Freeview channel 233 is broadcast with a picture resolution of 544×578. But Sky News via Saorview is broadcast with a resolution of 704×578. This means viewers can enjoy better picture quality, despite still only being available in standard definition.
Receiving Sky News for the first time
Not all Freeview channels such as Sky News are available to all homes in Northern Ireland. That’s because they are not carried on all relay transmitters. Today’s launch on Saorview means some households may be able to receive Sky News terrestrially for the first time, following a retune.
One example includes communities around Kilkeel where reception of the full set of Freeview channels is not possible. Signals from main transmitters are blocked by the Mourne Mountains. The local relay only carries the main Freeview channels. As a result, viewers in this area are able to compliment the limited Freeview channels with Saorview’s 12 channels, now including Sky News.