Following Channel 5's move to the Astra 1N satellite late last year, that brought sister channels 5* and 5USA to the Freesat platform in addition to Sky, Channel 5 has reduced the resolution of its standard definition channels.
This follows complaints from viewers of satellite platforms Sky and Freesat regarding the poor picture quality.
Channel 5 is broadcasting ten services on its satellite transponder, consisting of five regionalised versions of the main service (for advertising purposes), timeshift Channel 5+1, 5*, 5*+1, 5 USA and 5 USA+1. Previously it appeared that the encoder was struggling to offer a reasonable picture quality on services using a resolution of 720x576, with viewers complaining on various internet forums - posting screenshots of the picture quality including artifacts on screen. Channel 5 has never admitted to any problems, and that picture quality met the requirements set by Sky.
Now, Channel 5 SD services are now transmitting with a reduced resolution of 544x576, which reduces the bitrate requirements of each channel. Therefore the bandwidth available on Channel 5's transponder will be able to allocate appropriate bitrates without channels suffering from bitrate starvation as happened at the higher resolution.
Some internet forum members report that the picture is still suffering from interlacing problems. The resolution of Channel 5's sister channels 5* and 5 USA as well Channel 5+1 now match the resolution on the Freeview terrestrial service. Channel 5 itself on Freeview transmits at a higher resolution of 702x576 (as observed from the Sutton Coldfield transmitter 17/03/2012).