Some of the BBC’s HD channels on Freeview Play have moved to new channel numbers, if you have a TV or set-top-box that supports a recently introduced new function.
Channel List Management, first piloted in autumn 2020, means that HD channels can take over the channel numbers previously used by the standard definition version. Effectively it means Freeview can start doing a SD/HD swap, already commonplace on platforms like Sky and Freesat.
The BBC has quietly introduced support this week, meaning on some TVs and set-top-boxes, you can now find the HD versions of some of its channels in new places.
Who is affected by the changes?
- Anyone with a recently purchased Freeview Play device that supports Channel List Management. 2020 models became the first to support the functionality, after it was was added to the Freeview Play specifications.
- The device must be connected to the internet
Who isn’t affected by the changes?
- Anyone with an older Freeview TV or box, or an older Freeview Play device.
How can I tell if my TV supports this new function?
- If BBC Four HD has moved to either channel 9 in England, Wales, NI, IoM or channel 24 in Scotland, then you have a compatible device. If you’re seeing BBC Four SD there, then it’s not compatible.
If you have a compatible device, you’ll see the following channels on the following numbers:
- BBC Three HD – channel 23 and channel 109*/** (England and NI)
- BBC Three SD – channel 613** (England and NI)
- CBBC HD – channel 201 (instead of 204) (England and NI***)
- CBeebies HD – channel 202 (instead of 205)
- CBBC SD – channel 204 (instead of 201) (England and NI***)
- CBeebies SD – channel 205 (instead of 202)
*Some Freeview Play devices may only display the channel on 23 (BBC Three) while others will show the channel on both 23 and 109. **BBC Three HD isn’t available in Scotland or Wales, therefore there’s no change here. Viewers in Scotland and Wales will continue to see BBC Three SD on 23. ***Changes to CBBC HD can’t be implemented in Wales as CBBC HD runs reduced hours in Wales at the weekends.
NOTE: Since publishing the above list, the BBC confirmed changes to BBC Four, previously shown here, had been put on hold. We’ve updated the list accordingly.
Why can’t all Freeview Play and Freeview HD TVs benefit from this change?
- If Freeview changed its channel list so that HD channels were moved up to replace SD, this would also affect viewers with older SD only TVs and boxes.
- To get around this problem, Channel List Management effectively creates a new channel list for compatible TVs and boxes, that’s delivered via the internet. It overrides the channel list that’s broadcast over the air. This does mean that if you have a compatible device, but lose access to the internet, you may revert back to the standard channel list after a period of time.
- Channel List Management was only recently added to the Freeview Play specifications – so older Freeview Play devices won’t be compatible without an update. As with all retrospective upgrades, these aren’t guaranteed or sometimes not possible.
Updated 19:48 07/11/2022. Note added to section ‘What changes?’.