Viewers in the Tayside area of Scotland can no longer receive their local STV service on Freesat, as SD services close without HD replacement.
- STV’s changes coincide with technical work undertaken by ITV, who provide STV with broadcast capacity on satellite.
- STV is the third public broadcaster involved in closing SD services on satellite this month.
The area around Dundee has become the only part of the UK where it’s currently not possible to receive the local Channel 3 service free-to-air via satellite.
Technical work by ITV to remove a number of standard definition services from Sky and Freesat channel lists completed at lunchtime today. Previously, all STV regions were uplinked to satellite alongside ITV’s channels.
As part of the closures, STV SD sub-regions covering Dundee and Glasgow have now closed. While Glasgow’s STV service is also available in HD, there is currently no free-to-air HD replacement for the STV Dundee service.
Although STV makes all of its regions available in HD via satellite, all but Glasgow are encrypted and only available through Sky, not Freesat.
As a result, Freesat viewers in Dundee now receive STV’s Aberdeen service on channel 103. While most of the output is the same, STV uses the sub-regional opts to carry local news updates and adverts.
The BBC and ITV have also been closing SD services this week on both Sky and Freesat.
▶ Overview of the STV changes on satellite
▶ How the changes affect Freesat users in the STV broadcasting area
What you now see depends on which STV service covers your area:
- STV West (Glasgow): Now in HD only on channel 103.
- STV East (Edinburgh): No change. SD on channel 103.
- STV North (Aberdeen): No change. SD on channel 103.
- STV North (Dundee): No longer available. Now showing STV North (Aberdeen) on channel 103.
Just STV West (Glasgow) is distributed free-to-air in high definition (HD) on Freesat. This can be found on channel 111 in other STV regions on Freesat.
This is the only instance in the UK where one of the main five channels is not available in HD in a primary position (101-105) on a UK satellite channel list.
▶ How the changes affect Sky satellite users in the STV broadcasting area
On Sky, the situation is different.
STV has an agreement that gives Sky subscribers access to a fully regionalised STV HD service. This means today’s removal of two legacy SD services will go largely unnoticed by viewers, unless they have an expired viewing card or older receiver.
- STV West (Glasgow): Local version in HD on channel 103. However, SD version is now STV East (Edinburgh) on channel 803.
- STV East (Edinburgh): Local version in HD on channel 103. SD version on channel 803 (No change).
- STV North (Aberdeen): Local version in HD on channel 103. SD version on channel 803 (No change).
- STV North (Dundee): Local version in HD on channel 103. However, SD version is now STV North (Aberdeen) on channel 803.
There are no changes on cable (Virgin Media) and Freeview.
- The full STV regional service in HD is available on Virgin Media channel 103 in cabled parts of the STV broadcast area.
- On Freeview, the full STV regional service is available in SD on channel 3. STV West (Glasgow) HD is broadcast across the whole STV area on channel 103.
It’s the first time a sub-regional Channel 3 service has closed on satellite before a free-to-air HD replacement service is made available. However, under STV’s broadcasting licence, issued by Ofcom, the broadcaster should “ensure that the Regional Channel 3 Service, is at all times offered as available (subject to the need to agree terms) to be broadcast by means of every satellite television service that is available for reception by members of the public in the whole or a part of the United Kingdom.”
RXTV has approached STV regarding this. In response, STV commented:
The vast majority of STV viewers are unaffected by changes to satellite services in SD. 95% of satellite viewing is HD and there is no change to HD provision.
All four STV sub-regions continue to be available in HD on Sky. On Freesat, there is no change to HD provision, with the Glasgow sub-region continuing to be available all across Scotland.
On SD, the Glasgow sub-region will no longer be available, replaced by the Edinburgh sub-region. The Dundee sub-region will be temporarily unavailable, replaced by Aberdeen sub-region with a further announcement in due course.
Meanwhile, ITV has closed ITV Border Scotland SD. From today, the regional Channel 3 service in the South of Scotland is free-to-air HD-only on both Sky and Freesat channel 103.
Updated 11/01/2024 with comment from STV.