The Freeview Years: 2004
Highlights from 2004
Pay TV returned to the digital terrestrial television platform in March 2004, courtesy of Top Up TV, who acquired capacity on multiplex 2 and A. Multiplexes B, C and D were at the time forbidden from carrying pay TV channels.
Top Up TV brought several channels to the platform on a timeshare basis. The original line up included E4, Discovery, UKTV Gold and UKTV Style and Cartoon Network. TCM, which was originally going to be a Freeview channel in 2002 (according to reports), launched on channel 25.
Meanwhile on Freeview, abc1 - a Disney backed channel launched on Freeview channel 15 on 27th September 2004 via multiplex A, following several weeks of preview transmissions. It broadcast between 6am and 6pm on Freeview, but not in Wales, where bid-up.tv took the capacity - itself turfed from the slot used elsewhere in the UK because of S4C.
abc1 showed US comedy and comedy drama including "8 Simple Rules", "Moonlighting", "Less than Perfect", "Sports Night", "Ellen" and "Rodney". abc1 subsequently launched on cable and satellite before being closed down in September 2007.
A last minute deal during the afternoon of the 1st November between ITV and Sky - involving ITV taking over Granada Sky Broadcasting - resulted in TV channel [Granada] Plus being suddenly hoisted off air on Sky, with staff given just 15 minutes notice. A few hours later at 9pm, ITV3 launched on Sky and as planned on Freeview and cable.
The introduction of ITV3 on multiplex 2 meant that the ITV News Channel was forced off air in most of the UK until an extra videostream could be added to the multiplex. [Click for link to News article from MediaGuardian.]
Shopping channel Ideal World commenced broadcasting on Freeview channel 22 on 23rd April 2004, bringing the tally of shopping channels to 4.
On Radio, Country radio station 3c launched on the 29th September on Freeview. The station, broadcast from Scotland, began life on Freeview channel 95. TalkSport joined Freeview, beginning with audio tests on the 23rd August 2004.
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