The channel formerly known as the Community Channel won’t be available on as many Freeview TVs following a change made on Monday.
The self-proclaimed ‘social change broadcaster’ and home of Garden Rescue, Gok’s Fashion Fix and The Dales continues to be available on Freeview channel 83. But only in some parts of the UK.
As part of a wider reshuffle of Freeview bandwidth to make room for entertainment channel W, Together has moved to a limited coverage multiplex, known in the trade as interim multiplex COM7. It is carried on less than 30 transmitters serving the UK, leaving large coverage not-spots.
Viewers who can already receive Forces TV (channel 96) and FreeSports (65) on Freeview should be able to see Together on channel 83 after a retune. Some TVs might add the channel in the 800s until a full retune/reset is done.
Viewers who can’t already receive Forces TV and FreeSports will not be able to watch Together after retuning.
But the arrangement is only short-term, with the long-term future of Together TV on Freeview up in the air. Satellite and cable viewers are unaffected.
Unlike commercial broadcasters, Together has a special status to support the voluntary and charity sector. All major broadcasters and platform operators support the channel. In some cases, content (programmes) are donated. In other cases, technical support is provided to keep the channel on air.
On Freeview, multiplex operator Arqiva has traditionally gifted surplus bandwidth. This has meant that over the years, the channel has moved around quite a bit. Only in recent years has the channel been able to establish a longer-term presence on the platform.
The space Together has moved to was freed up by the removal of RT HD earlier this month. The channel is now parked there until no later than June, when there will be a major reshuffle of Freeview’s bandwidth.
This is because Ofcom has actioned off frequencies previously used by terrestrial TV services for future 5G mobile services. Interim multiplex COM7 is currently broadcasting on frequencies awarded to EE. COM7’s licence to broadcast ends on 30th June 2022.
As a result, all services on COM7 will need to find permanent homes on other multiplexes. However, there isn’t currently enough space to fit all services in. Alternatively, they can continue as streaming services on Freeview Play devices or close altogether.
As Together relies on gifted capacity, it remains uncertain whether there will continue to be space to keep the channel running.