Red Button streams on satellite to be cut to one mid-October

Changes to BBC services on satellite
  • New HD transponder to be launched, but expensive Europe-beam Astra 2A transponder to be axed by BBC.

BBC Red Button on satellite and cable will be cut to one linear stream from 15th October. That's according to the BBC's director of distribution, Alix Pryde, who today outlined future plans for BBC satellite capacity, following last month's adjustment to transmission parameters on the BBC HD transponder. In addition, some of the BBC's TV services on satellite will be moved around on the 12th October.

Coinciding with the announcement, Tom Williams, Development Editor for Red Button, confirmed that although multi-screen coverage of big events via the existing Red Button service would cease, coverage in the future would be coming via the "connected red button" - in other words, more BBC Red Button content - such as major sporting events - would be delivered to viewers of all of the UK's digital platforms via broadband internet through smart TV apps and digital receivers with internet connection. In the meantime, the one remaining Red Button stream is scheduled to showcase Monday Night NFL, Autumnwatch, Strictly Come Dancing extra content and Glastonbury archive material in the coming months.

Reshuffle in detail:
Due to the BBC's transponders on Astra containing duplicates of BBC One for each region, with the potential need to have similar bitrates when showing identical content - and potenitally all needing increases in bitrate at the same time when showing bandwidth hungry events like sport, the services need to be spread out carefully. Therefore, additional changes will be made on the 12th October, most of which should go unnoticed in the early hours for viewers with Freesat or Sky.

  • BBC Alba and BBC One North East & Cumbria will be moving transponders to Astra 1N 10803.00 H
  • BBC Three/CBBC and BBC NEWS will move to Astra 1N 10818.00V
  • BBC Four/CBeebies and BBC Red Button 1 will move to Astra 1N 10773.00H.

The BBC will move off its Astra 2A 11954.00 H transponder by the end of October. The transponder has been the most costly to operate, given its Europe wide beam, and had cost implications for sports rights purchased for UK viewers, but accessible across much of Europe. For details of changes to BBC Radio on satellite click here.

Thus the move off Astra 2A contributes towards the BBC's Delivering Quality First cost-cutting initiative.

With regards to HD, Alix Pryde confirmed that the BBC would split its HD channels over two transponders, both on a UK spot beam capacity via the Astra 1N satellite, and wouldn't share one transponder, as was initially feared.

Although the BBC's second HD transponder would cancel out the loss of capacity on Astra 2A, the new transponder on Astra 1N will incur lower costs to the BBC. Two national versions of BBC One will appear on each of the transponders, plus the BBC HD channel (BBC Two HD from 2013) on the original HD transponder. The BBC is reviewing its options with regards spare capacity on the second transponder.

  Related article:
As part of the changes, there will be adjustments made to BBC Radio on satellite meaning they will no longer be transmitted Europe-wide.
BBC Two HD isn't coming this year.
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