The Freeview Years: 2008
Highlights from 2008
Digital Switchover commenced in November 2008 when viewers in the Selkirk transmitter group in the Scottish Borders were migrated across to digital TV. Due to the hilly terrain, many terrestrial TV viewers have to rely on relay transmitters, which only carried part of the Freeview service, which later became often (informally) referred to as "Freeview Lite". How the term was Americanised is anyone's guess...
On TV, CITV moved to multiplex A in February 2008, allowing ITV4 to go 24 hours, but the channel would disappear of Welsh screens for several years, as the capacity on the multiplex was needed in Wales for other channels displaced by S4C.
In August 2008, The Hits became 4Music as a result of Channel 4's stake in the company running the channel. The launch service of hits controlled by viewer phone calls had by this stage long gone. The launch of 4Music was preceded by a programme strand called 4Music Sundays. Nowadays there's not much music on 4Music on some evenings...
On the 08/08/08, the Bejing Olympics started. And BBC Parliament was taken off air to allow extra coverage of the event for Freeview Red Button users: a move that was repeated four years later when the Olympic movement arrived in London.
The BBC's 2008 Olympic opening titles - Olympics 2008 Monkey Movie - BBC Sport/ YouTube. Copyright (c) BBC
And in 2008, Sky's attempts at launching a pay TV service on digital terrestrial called Picnic, using capacity being used for its three Freeview channels was kicked into the long grass when Ofcom announced a review of the controversial proposals, which ultimately led to the death of Picnic. Ofcom made a decision in 2010, allowing Sky to launch the service in return for it letting other broadcasters have cut-price wholesale access to Sky Sports 1 and 2. Sky objected to the bit about letting other broadcasters have cut-price Sky Sports and it was only in 2012 that they won the appeal. By then, Sky had given up on Picnic, diluted its content on Freeview and set its sights on an internet delivered service called Now TV.
Toward the end of 2008, it was announced that Discovery had acquired a slot on Multiplex A for a new TV channel to launch in 2009. What would it be? Rumours circulated that the slot came from sit-up.tv, the operator of bid tv and price-drop tv. Would a service have to close? 2009 brought answers to those questions...
With the start of digital switchover, there were some new names for the digital multiplexes that transmitted the Freeview service in post-switchover regions:
On all transmitters:
BBC-A / PSB 1 (Mux 1)
D3&4 / PSB 2 (Mux 2)
BBC-B / PSB 3 (Mux B)
On main transmitters only:
SDN / COM4 (Mux A)
Arqiva A / COM5 (Mux C)
Arqiva B / COM6 (Mux D)
Following regulatory agreement, National Grid Wireless became part of Arqiva in late 2008, having been bought by Arqiva the year before, but kept as a separate business until competition concerns were addressed.
2008 was also the year Freeview ceased to be the only free to air digital TV platform. Freesat launched in May.
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