A high definition simulcast of S4C is now available via Freeview transmitters serving Wales.
It follows a deal between the BBC and the Welsh-language broadcaster to use Freeview HD capacity in Wales. A placeholder for S4C HD appeared in Wales on channel 110 on Wednesday 19th January, ahead of its official launch in the evening.
Viewers may need to retune to see the new service.
As a result, viewers can watch all of S4C’s primetime programmes in high definition. Programmes shown earlier in the day will continue to be SD only, via S4C’s existing service on Freeview channel 4. S4C HD weekend afternoon programmes, including live sport will also be available on Freeview.
Limited hours only on Freeview
S4C HD’s Freeview hours are limited due to a timesharing arrangement with the BBC. The new service will share bandwidth with CBBC HD.
CBBC HD / S4C HD timesharing arrangement
During the week, S4C HD starts at 7pm, after the end of CBBC programmes for the day.
At the weekend, S4C HD is live from 2pm. This means CBBC HD closes early in Wales. Viewers need to switch to CBBC SD to continue watching programmes until 7pm.
A full-time version of S4C HD service is available on Sky, Freesat and Virgin Media.
Return of HD broadcasts from S4C
BBC Three is not the only former Freeview channel returning this year.
It’s nearly ten years since S4C’s original Freeview HD channel “Clirlun” was closed due to cost-cutting. The name ‘Clirlun’ was the result of a competition to create a Welsh-language term for ‘high definition’. Following Clirlun’s closure in December 2012, the Freeview HD slot was assigned to Channel 4 HD.
Earlier this week, S4C was awarded an additional £14 million of licence fee money per year as part of a new funding arrangement to help boost its digital footprint.
S4C HD was launched on Sky and Freesat in 2016, and later followed by Virgin Media. Inclusion of Freeview until now was not possible, due to limited bandwidth and cost.
S4C HD on Freeview instead of BBC Three HD
Due to S4C HD taking a Freeview HD slot, BBC Three HD will not be available from transmitters in Wales. This was cleared by Ofcom during the regulatory process undertaken ahead of the relaunch of the youth-orientated channel.
However, viewers in Wales can continue to receive BBC Three SD on Freeview.
The HD version is carried on cable, satellite and online platforms. Some viewers may be able to receive BBC Three HD via signal overlap from Winter Hill transmitter in North East Wales and via the Mendip transmitter in the Cardiff and Newport area.
Changes to CBBC HD in Wales
There will be changes to the way CBBC HD is carried on Freeview as a result of the change. The current feed of CBBC HD moves to channel 790 following a retune. Recordings and series links need to change to the new feed of the channel, which will take over channel 204.
A further channel change will take place next week, when numerous Freeview channels move to new positions to make way for BBC Three on Freeview.
This article was updated 20/01/2022 with details of weekend times.