9th May 2012: Retune for Freeview viewers in Beds, Northants, Bucks and Cambs

Viewers with Freeview receiving from the Sandy Heath transmitter in Bedfordshire will be asked to retune again on the 9th May 2012 when digital multiplex SDN moves to its new frequency on UHF channel 51.

The frequency change will happen between midnight and 6am on the 9th May, and will invoke the sixth retune event in the area. The SDN multiplex, contains channels such as ITV3, 5*, 5USA, QVC, bid tv, Quest, ESPN [subscription], CITV and the zone. Digital UK advises that a retune be done after 6am.

Technical changes to boost bandwidth will take place coinciding with the retune, enabling the SDN multiplex to transmit one extra video stream (extra TV channel) in the near future.

The first retune for Sandy Heath viewers took place at stage one of the digital switchover on the 30th March 2011. A further retune occurred on the 13th  April at switchover stage two, followed by retune number 3 on the 31st August, retune number 4 on the 14th September and retune number 5 on the 23rd November 2011.

The transmitter generally covers locations in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, northern Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire, although reception outside of these counties has been reported. It belongs to the ITV Anglia/BBC East (Cambridge sub-opt) region.

From 9th May 2012, UHF channel numbers for manual tuning will be:
BBC-A (PSB1):     27
D3&4 (PSB2):       24
BBC-B (PSB3):     21 ^
SDN (COM4):        51
Arqiva A (COM5): 52
Arqiva B (COM6): 48

^ HD multiplex. DVB-T2 receivers only.

The number of retunes is due to the fact that the Sandy Heath transmitter coverage area is bordered by the East and West Midlands, Anglia (East), Oxfordshire and London transmitters. Although the main channels were able to go through analogue switch off and use final frequencies, the commercial multiplexes carrying many of the extra commercial channels on Freeview, such as Sky News, Film 4 and Really, could not be allocated to a permanent frequency until all other regions had switched. Two of the three commercial multiplexes settled in on a longer term frequency after the Central and Anglia (East) regions had completed; the final multiplex to move to a long-term allocation had to wait under London's switchover was complete, freeing up a suitable frequency to transmit at full power without interfering with another region's TV services.

Sandy Heath's frequency allocations look set to remain as they are for the next 4-6 years, with the likely addition of an additional frequency for Bedford for a local television service. Thereafter, there may be further frequency changes as more of the UHF band is emptied for mobile broadband usage, subject to the outcome of a current Ofcom consultation.
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