The move to channel 35 finally answers the question as to what would go on the vacant channel number, which has not been in use since the short lived ITV Preview 1 and before that Virgin1+1.
When ITV's The Zone launched on channel 39 - which leapfrogged the competition due to being an associated channel with a public service broadcaster, and when Channel 5+1 appeared on channel 44 - again leapfrogging channels such as Food Network, due to associated channel status, questions were asked as to why and for purpose channel 35 was being kept vacant for. After all, ITV's The Zone or Channel 5+1 could have staked their entitlement to the highest vacant slot on Freeview, being sister channels of a main public service channel. Last week, EPG guardians DMOL announced that channel 45 was the best channel number available for local TV services in Scotland and Wales, further igniting the question "what about channel 35?"
Generally channels are launched at the end of whichever segment of the EPG is suitable for the type of service being launched, unless they have associated channel status with another existing channel, or are linked to a public service broadcaster.
QVC were reportedly not happy at how the channel numbering system on digital terrestrial was being handled, and the channel numbering on Freeview was even the subject of a MP's discussion in Westminster Hall, where QVC's case was mentioned. QVC would have noticed how ITV's The Zone shopping and gambling channel had launched ahead of QVC Beauty in the EPG, leapfrogging numerous services, whilst QVC Beauty and The Jewellery Channel were added to the end of the "General Entertainment" section of the EPG, channels 48 and 60, respectively when they launched.
With The Jewellery Channel's launch coming after Food Network's addition to Freeview, which launched on channel 49 - the last channel number before the HD section, The Jewellery Channel sits on its own part of the General Entertainment on channel 60 section, which is now broken in two, because of the HD section being on channel 50 onward.
Today's development should be pleasing for QVC and seen as a positive result of their intense lobbying of decision makers on this matter. It is also a sign that the shopping channels will be prepared to fight tooth and nail against any downgrading of their position on the Freeview EPG in the event of a new EPG reshuffle, which is expected later this year, after DMOL (the regulators of the EPG) have concluded their forthcoming consultation.
Today's event provides further proof that Channel 4's new timeshift channel More4+2 will appear on channel 47 next month - unless we get another surprise in the coming weeks.
- In other news, the duplicated version of teleshopping channel "Big Deal" on channel 795 has been removed (not applicable to viewers in London, Meridian East, Tyne Tees or Ulster).