Highlights from 2010
This was the year Sky took away Sky Sports News, Al Jazeera joined the service and various channels launched, moved, departed like never before...
January saw a flurry of changes to the platform, which included the launch of "TV News" on channel 89. A mystery blank placeholder, entitled "News" had been in the Freeview EPG since 30/09/2009. TV News initially aired between 0500 and 0800 and contained the same 30 minute programme on a loop. The programme usually included entertainment and movie news, plus occasional video game features. By June the channel had gone 24 hours a day courtesy of TV News 2 on Freeview channel 90, which contained the same content, just looped all day. The programme refreshed itself everyday.
March saw the beginning of Ideal Extra from Ideal World on channel 41. Launched for a test period, it quietly disappeared off air a few months later. Obviously the trial didn't go well...
Something that lasted longer was Channel 4 HD, which went live on Freeview HD at the end of March, to co-incide with the consumer launch of Freeview HD and the first DVB-T2 Freeview HD certified receivers to hit the market. During 2010, the Freeview HD service was rolled out to all areas where switchover had been completed. In addition, additional low power transmitters were brought into service at Lichfield (for Birmingham), Emley Moor (for parts of South and West Yorkshire), Pontop Pike (from Newcastle Gateshead) and Black Hill (Central Scotland) so that viewers in major urban areas could get access to the 2010 Football World Cup in HD. London's Crystal Palace transmitter also offered restricted coverage access to the Freeview HD ahead of switchover. This particular transmitter had started transmitting HD a year before.
April brought Channel M to Manchester's Freeview screens. The local channel had been without a terrestrial presence since digital switchover reached the North West at the end of 2009. The channel was hidden away up on channel 200. Meanwhile, the ever growing group of adult channels had a reshuffle of their own.
S4C launched its own HD channel, called Clirlun. The name was chosen in a competition run by the channel to coin a phase for high definition in Welsh. Clirlun means Clear View, apparently.
S4C tells us about Clirlun - in Welsh of course...
June brought a change to the Community Channel on Freeview. It had survived as a three hour a day service between 06:00-09:00 in pre-switchover regions on Freeview. However between October 2009 and June 2010, the channel had disappeared in post-switchover regions. In June, the channel went 24/7 on Freeview, before moving over to the Arqiva A multiplex (Mux C) on the 1st July, when the channel returned to part-time, broadcasting between 0500 and 0800. It therefore became available in all regions again.
June was the month Yesterday's evening schedule was brought back to Freeview, following the closure of the Virgin 1+1 service, coming ahead of Sky's acquisition of Virgin Media Television (formerly Flextech). Between 2007 and 2010, Yesterday/UKTV History had shared a slot on Freeview's multiplex D (Arqiva B) with Virgin 1 (later Virgin 1+1), with Yesterday on air until 6pm and Virgin 1 taking over after 6pm.
STV launched its HD service in Scotland on the 11th June 2010.
The 1st of July brought more big changes: this is an extract from The Freeview Changelog on Digital Spy:
25 Dave Ja Vu - Moved from Mux D (ARQ B) to Mux C (Arq A). Viewers who have not retuned will have a caption telling them to retune.The launch of Al Jazeera English was particularly interesting, as Freeview viewers were welcomed during the first minutes of transmission on Freeview channel 89.
32 Big Deal - Moved from Mux D (ARQ B) to Mux C (ARQ A) Broadcast hours: 0400-0600
35 Virgin 1+1 - The MHEG caption that appeared on this channel for anyone who hadn't tuned or for those with receivers that don't automatically retune was removed. All residual data relating to this channel on Mux D (ARQ B) have now gone. Virgin 1+1 closed when Yesterday expanded its hours a month ago.
40 Rocks and Co 1 - Relabelled with a "1". Indicating a future Rocks and Co 2? Broadcast hours unchanged at 1300-1800, Mux D (ARQ B), Part of the Timeshare slot with e.g. Create & Craft & Al Jazeera English.
85 Russia Today - Now 24 Hours a day, using the slot vacated by Dave Ja Vu on Mux D (ARQ B)
87 COMMUNITY - Moved from Mux B (BBC) to Mux C (ARQ A) in pre-switchover areas. Label changed from "Community" to "COMMUNITY".
In post-switchover areas, re-appeared on channel 87 on Mux C (ARQ A). New broadcast hours: 0500-0800. Viewers who haven't retuned or don't have receivers that automatically retune in pre-switchover areas will see a caption advising them to retune.
89 Al Jazeera English - New on Freeview. News channel based in Doha, with bulletins from London. Mux D (ARQ B). Broadcast Hours 1800-2300. Replaces TV News.
90 TV News 2 - Mux C (ARQ A). Channel removed. Part of a temporary 4 month slot that was originally shared with Ideal Extra (that closed a month ago on Freeview). TV News may appear again in the future, according to hints on the last edition of TV News.
96 Babestation - Mux D (ARQ B). Hours curtailed. New start time: 2300. Reason: Al Jazeera English now timeshares in that slot between 1800 and 2300.
106 DirectGov - Mux 2 (D3&4) Also in Freeview Lite areas. This service has now been discontinued. Government advice is still available via the direct.gov website.
The following week brought BT1 and BT2 to digital terrestrial TV. Later relabelled Sky Sports 1 and 2, these channels on 41 and 42 were to provide BT Vision and Top Up TV customers access to the two main Sky Sports channels via an aerial. The channels used extra capacity created in post-switchover regions, but used surplus BBC capacity in pre-switchover areas.
There was one major snag to this arrangement. The full transition from pre-switchover multiplexes to post-switchover multiplexes hadn't been made at the Mendip transmitter, so that viewers here couldn't get the pre-switchover version of Multiplex B that carried Sky Sports, neither could they get the post-switchover Arqiva B multiplex which carried Sky Sports. The switchover and retunes schedule had to be hastily revised, and retune dates brought forward for Mendip and several other transmitters. Arqiva B launched at Mendip in January 2011 giving BT Vision and Top Up TV viewers in Somerset and Avon late access to the Sky Sports channels.
Government cutbacks began to make themselves known on Freeview. Not only had DirectGov ended its relatively short stint on Freeview on the 1st July, but Teachers TV - a channel which used Top Up TV capacity to air for a short time each day was withdrawn at the end of term on the 21st July.
The 23rd August 2010 was seen by many as a pivotal point in Freeview's history. At 05:59:45, Sky Sports News was removed off Freeview - just as a new look, HD version of Sky Sports News was about to go live on Sky. Sky Sports News was one of the most popular channels on Freeview. It was replaced by Sky 3+1.
Seen the warning captions when you channel hop up to the adult channels on channels 170 and 199. They first launched in time for new Ofcom guidelines on the 1st September 2010. Then the captions occupied channels 92 and 99.
In September 2010, Virgin 1 became Channel One. It only lasted a few months, before new owners Sky shut it down. We can't have Freeviewers seeing new and exclusive popular US imports can we?
TV News bounced back in October on channel 90, that didn't last long either.
November saw the introduction of BBC One HD on Freeview HD and other digital platforms. It soon blended into the TV landscape, as if it had always been there...
The 15th November 2010 was an important date for Multiplex A/SDN. Its new multiplex licence period started then, and a carriage agreement between Turner and SDN came to end, meaning the end of CNN on Freeview on the 13th. On the 15th itself, Absolute Radio and Heart moved to SDN and Capital FM joined the platform, just weeks ahead of its UK wide rollout, when it replaced Galaxy, Ram FM, Leicester Sound, Trent FM and Red Dragon.
A mystery channel called ITV Preview 1 appeared on channel 35 in November - briefly telling us that ITV1+1 was coming soon... It disappeared not long after.
In the meantime, digital switchover was taking place across Wales -which became the first part of the UK to be fully digital at the end of March, Northern Scotland, the Channel Islands and the West region (around Bristol).
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