The BBC currently plans to close its remaining standard definition TV channels on satellite in March 2024.
A help scheme designed to support certain groups of people with the HD upgrade is now live. Earlier this year, the BBC apologised when the scheme failed to launch in time for the HD switch. This left affected households without access to local news via satellite.
At present, the BBC offers non-regionalised versions of its channels in standard definition on satellite. These services are due to close next year, and viewers who want to keep receiving BBC services, including their local BBC One beyond March 2024 will need to upgrade to a newer HD receiver.
Sky is offering customers with an old Sky digibox or first generation Sky+ (non-HD) box a free upgrade to Sky Q. Visit the Sky website for more information.
This leaves the BBC to offer support to households with older Freesat receivers in a help scheme called ‘Project HD Satellite Upgrade’. Some of the affected households were originally given a Freesat receiver during the original digital switchover help scheme between 2008 and 2012.
Who is eligble for support?
The BBC is providing free basic advice and guidance to all affected viewers via www.hdsatelliteupgrade.co.uk.
But in order to get additional support, Freesat viewers need to meet the following criteria:
- Do you watch services on the primary television in you home via an SD-only satellite set-top box? You can check Freesat channel 799 to see if your device needs upgrading.
- Are you over 75 or are in receipt of one of the following benefits: personal independence payments (PIPs); attendance allowance, or War Pensioner’s Mobility Support?
What do you get?
- Most will get a voucher providing a £40 discount off the cost of a new HD-compatible satellite receiver. This must be bought from the Freesat website. The voucher will be emailed to you. At the time of publication, just two receivers were available, with the lowest on sale for £145, or £105 with voucher. Viewers will need to self-install, using the existing satellite dish and cables.
- Subject to a financial hardship test, some applicants to the help scheme will get additional support to cover the full cost of an entry level Manhattan SX box. These would normally cost around £60-£75 if bought from a high street retailer (e.g. Argos) or supermarket (e.g. Asda).
- Those identified as needing additional support also get in-home support and assistance with the installation process. In this scenario, an engineer will come and install a Manhattan SX box.
What’s not available
- Project HD Satellite Upgrade will not provide support relating to a viewer’s broadband service or broadband installation for the use of internet services (e.g. BBC iPlayer) that are supported by newer satellite receivers.
- Owners of communal satellite TV systems will also not receive support. However, users living in homes reliant on a communal dish may apply for support in obtaing a new satellite receiver.
- Owners of commercial premises, such as B&Bs, are not covered by the scheme, unless there is a vulnerable customer involved that is eligible under the criteria mentioned earlier.
- There’s no support for viewers living in the Republic of Ireland or in those parts of continental Europe where overspill reception is possible.
What will happen in 2024?
Remaining BBC channels broadcast in standard definition on satellite will be turned off.
Other broadcasters still offering a standard definition service on satellite alongside HD are also understood to be finalising their migration plans.
For viewers who already have an HD satellite receiver, any duplicates of BBC channels in standard definition services that still appear lower down in the channel list will be removed.
BBC Radio via satellite
By March 2024, listeners to BBC Radio on satellite will also need an HD-compatible satellite receiver. That’s because the radio services will broadcast as part of the DVB-S2 signal carrying the HD channels.
Freeview and Virgin Media viewers
- Freeview viewers aren’t affected by these changes.
- Virgin Media already upgraded all BBC channels to HD last year. No further action is required.
Where to apply for support
- You can apply via the HD Satellite Upgrade website.
- You can call the HD Satellite Upgrade helpline: 0330 123 1876. The helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm, excluding bank holidays.