On-screen messaging has increased on the standard definition (SD) version of BBC One on satellite to raise awareness among viewers that it and all other SD channels from the BBC will be closing soon.
- BBC announced last year it was planning to close all of its SD channels on satellite after making all services available in High Definition (HD).
- Broadcaster previously replaced all regional programming with an on-screen message and added messaging between programmes.
- Now viewers will see a periodic caption covering the lower third of the screen informing viewers they need to take action.
- Viewers who use the standard definition copy of BBC One to record programmes on Sky are also affected.
Viewers will soon need an HD-compatible receiver to continue watching BBC TV programmes on Sky and Freesat. The change also affects BBC Radio, which is moving to a broadcast standard not supported by older SD-only receivers.
The BBC is currently using BBC One SD on satellite to carry an increasing number of on-screen messages to inform affected viewers they need to take action. This started in February with the removal of all regional versions of BBC One. Regional programmes were replaced with an on-screen caption. Then in the summer, messaging was inserted between programmes. Now entire programmes are going out with on-screen messaging covering the bottom third of the screen.
Minority of viewers affected
Only a small number of viewers are affected. These may include older viewers and viewers with special needs. SD-only Freesat boxes were handed out during the digital switchover help scheme to elderly and vulnerable users in some regions, which would need to be replaced if still in use.
Viewers who don’t see the messaging or already receive BBC One in HD don’t need to take action. Freeview, YouView and Virgin Media users are also not affected. And viewers who use Sky’s online-based Sky Glass/Sky Stream service also don’t need to take action.
According to the latest timetable published by the BBC, it will switch off standard definition channels on satellite in early 2024.
Sky satellite viewers should contact Sky to arrange an upgrade to Sky Q. Freesat users are advised to visit hdsatelliteupgrade.co.uk for more information on the options available to them.
Sky and Freesat users with HD receivers
On Sky, BBC One SD currently also appears on channel 801. Some viewers may have used the SD version to record programmes on Sky+HD or Sky Q as a SD recording takes less space on the disk. However, the increased occurrence of messaging means viewers who still do this may find recordings covered by the on-screen message. Affected viewers can record from BBC One HD on channel 101 or catch-up on BBC programmes through the iPlayer.
On Freesat, the SD version of BBC One has already been delisted from all newer HD boxes. It only appears on older Freesat boxes and viewers still using these will need to upgrade their receivers soon.
The BBC is expected to empty its last remaining satellite transponder used solely for standard definition by March. By this time, BBC Radio services which currently broadcast alongside the TV services will be fully migrated to new capacity, which uses the DVB-S2 broadcast standard. At the moment, BBC Radio is dual-illuminated on both old and new frequencies. The satellite copy of BBC Radio 4 LW will also be deleted. This is because the BBC is also closing its long wave service at the end of March 2024.