Sky appeal puts some Freeview channel changes on hold

  updated 18:00

Sky has appealed against the decision by digital terrestrial TV platform manager DMOL to move its news channel Sky News from channel 82 to channel 133 next month.

As a result of the appeal, changes to the news and children's genre planned for the 19th September have been put on hold, but other changes - such as the reshuffle of HD and adult services will still go ahead.

Children's services are affected by the appeal relating to Sky News, because the move of the news section to channel 131 onward was to provide a buffer between children's channels and adult services.

Sky was the most vocal opponent to the changes designed to tidy up the Freeview EPG in the recent consultation on the future channel numbering system on digital terrestrial TV/Freeview.

In its submission to the DMOL consultation that led to the initial decision to move children's and news channels - announced on the 30th July -, Sky stated that it is not satisfied it is "fair and reasonable (in the circumstances) that existing channels be moved down the EPG as a consequence. In fact, Sky believes strongly that the proposed changes would cause serious harm to the affected advertising funded channels, with no immediate or tangible benefits for consumers which could in the medium term reduce the number and variety of independent channels on the platform."

Sky expressed its view that the channels on the Freeview service is, "in effect, a single, long list which consumers simply scroll through (unless they know and type in the number of channel for which they are specifically searching) and asserted that Freeview viewers have "limited expectations viewers have in terms of how the (DMOL) EPG should operate"

It indicated that any overflow from a genre could be dealt with by allocating the next available channel number rather than changing the channel numbering system. However observers have noted that in 2005, prior to a reshuffle, children's services were appearing next to new adult services in the EPG.

Today's news comes in contrast to the broadcaster's opinions in 2005, when Sky News moved from channel 42 to 82 without any fuss to make way for an extended general entertainment section and to clear groups of channel numbers for children's channels, separating adult channels from children's channels.

DMOL has four weeks to consider Sky's appeal. If the matter cannot be settled, the case will go to Ofcom.

  View the current version of the proposed channel list, which is subject to changes and amendments, at

  Related article:
Freeview channel re-organisation: How the broadcasters responded to the consultation

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