With the switching off of the analogue TV signal last night, the Tyne Tees region became the last corner of England to go digital only with regards to television.
A retune is required to restore all services, many of which are now using new frequencies, including those used for analogue TV until last night. For viewers who were able to receive a Freeview signal prior to switchover, the retune will incorporate numerous changes to the Freeview service made last week. Dave is now on Freeview channel 12. Yesterday on Freeview channel 19 and Really is on channel 17.
New Channels and extended broadcast hours on Freeview
Channel 4's catch up service 4seven joins the local line on channel 47 from today.
Freeview HD, for those with Freeview HD certified receivers, is available widely for the first time.
Food Network, now on Freeview channel 48 is now available 24 hours a day in the Tyne Tees region. Likewise, viewers can now access Al Jazeera English 24/7 on channel 83 and watch Argos TV every evening on channel 55. Create & Craft is now available until 10pm, falling in line with other UK regions where switchover has been completed.
Viewers receiving from a relay (not Fenham) will only be able to receive around 15 standard definition channels from Freeview, plus HD channels (with suitable Freeview HD certified equipment). Commercial operators decided against adding their digital multiplexes to relay sites for commercial reasons.
Tyne Tees main transmitter UHF channels for manual tuning purposes:
Bilsdale: Digital UHF Channels (in order BBCA, D3&4, BBCB, SDN, ARQ-A, ARQ-B): 26, 29, 23, 43, 46, 40
Chatton: Digital UHF Channels (in order BBCA, D3&4, BBCB, SDN, ARQ-A, ARQ-B): 45, 42, 39, 41, 44, 47
Pontop Pike: Digital UHF Channels (in order BBCA, D3&4, BBCB, SDN, ARQ-A, ARQ-B): 58, 54, 49, 50, 59, 55
From today, older ITV Digital / On Digital receivers and some early Freeview TVs and boxes will no longer work. Digital switchover brought a slight change in the way the signal is being broadcast, and older boxes dating back around 10 years or more are not compatible with the new signal mode. Such receivers have been able to offer an extra four years of service in the Tyne Tees region compared with viewers in the Scottish Borders who went through switchover in 2008, and who lost ability to use such receivers back then.
Boosters/amplifiers and high gain aerials
Until switchover, the digital signal was at low power, and some viewers resorted to using a high gain aerial, booster or amplifier to enhance the signal.
Viewers using boosters/amplifiers or high gain aerial will need to check to see if they are not suffering from signal overload from today - the post-switchover digital signals are at significantly higher power than the pre-switchover service, which had to be low power so as not to interfere with analogue services. Symptoms of signal overload can include picture break up (as if the signal actually wasn't strong enough), additionally if signal stength is high, but the picture is breaking up action should be taken. Boosters/amplifiers should be taken out to see if reception improves. 100% signal strength is not required for a good signal. Providing signal quality is high, strength can be lower without any major problems.
Another downside with using a high gain aerial or booster/amplifier is that some viewers may suddenly now receive high powered services from distant transmitters or nearby relays that their equipment is pulling in. This may be desired in some cases, but may cause duplication of channels, storing of weaker channels instead of the stronger local channels (if the weaker transmitter is scanned first on some devices). Manual tuning may be required (see manual tuning details in the section above).
Digital UK's consumer helpline will be open with enhanced staffing today to assist viewers with retuning queries. They can be contacted at 0845 6 50 50 50, from 8am. Their website is at www.digitaluk.co.uk