After this Monday’s channel changes, Freeview users can expect even more changes to the service this year. Viewers will need to retune again to ensure all channels available in their area appear on the channel list.
W launches on Monday 28th March, with other minor channels shuffling and changing frequencies.
But that won’t be the end: TalkTV, the news-based channel from News UK, will be added to the Freeview channel list this spring. News UK are turning the existing TalkRADIO TV web channel to a fully fledged TV service, available on Freeview and all other major TV platforms. It will include weeknightly shows with Tom Newton-Dunn, Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne. During the day, it will continue to show TalkRADIO’s current visual radio shows, live from its studios in Central London.
The service is coming soon – an announcement confirming its launch date is expected any day. News UK is already running test transmissions for the channel on satellite. Meanwhile, TalkTV received its Ofcom licence to broadcast on Freeview earlier this month.
June changes may mean a reduction of channels
By no later than the end of June 2022, a major technical change will complete, which is expected to cause some viewers to lose channels. This is when one of Freeview’s seven national multiplexes – COM7 – needs to shut down. COM7’s broadcast licence expires on the 30th June 2022 and won’t be renewed. This is because last year, EE won the auction to use the frequency used by COM7 for 5G mobile services.
Channels affected include BBC Four HD, CBeebies HD, Quest HD, FreeSports, Forces TV and NOW 80s. Each broadcaster has to be make their own decision on whether their channel will continue to be available on Freeview. Occasionally, long-term slots on Freeview unaffected by this closure do become available. PBS America and Smithsonian Channel have already migrated across to avoid getting the chop. However, a lack of capacity for HD services on remaining Freeview capacity means HD channels are likely to have to close.
Not all viewers will be affected, as not all were ever able to receive the above channels on Freeview. That’s because COM7 had much lower UK coverage.
But there is some good news for Freeview HD users. The BBC is working to regionalise its HD multiplex as part of its project to make regional news available in HD on Freeview. At that point, viewers will be able to receive their version of BBC One in HD without the red screen during regional slots. BBC Distribution boss Kieran Clifton confirmed last year that the BBC aims to complete the task by the end of the year.
Freeview Play enhancements
And for anyone with a Freeview Play TV, there’s another change expected this autumn. ITV is relaunching its streaming services, combining ITV Hub, Hub+ and BritBox into one service. The new ‘ITVX‘ will be automatically available on all Freeview Play TVs and boxes.
Meanwhile, all BBC iPlayer live streams will be upgraded to support HD. This means BBC Alba and BBC Parliament will be available in to stream in HD, even if Freeview’s terrestrial signal is SD only.
Freeview is also prepping a service that won’t even require an aerial, with all the main channels streamed. It’s called IP-fallback. No longer will the availability of TV services be constrained by terrestrial coverage. However, affordable fibre broadband coverage will then become the key factor in receiving TV.