RT enters widescreen and HD era

Russian news channel RT has today entered the widescreen and HD era, but viewers will need to manually tune their satellite receivers to watch the channel until it is given carriage on Sky and Freesat's TV guide. 

On Freeview, the channel has become the last full time service to go widescreen. The channel has been given a minor refresh, with new widescreen and HD friendly graphics and studio.

The changes mark the end of a year of significant investment for the channel, which reportedly enjoys an annual budget of $300 million. Ahead of the move to widescreen and HD, the channel has heavily invested in new programme strands and providing country-specific advertising opt-outs.

On satellite, the new HD version contains the UK advertising opt-outs introduced onto the standard definition service back in September. There has been no official word from either Sky or Freesat as to when the free-to-air RT HD will launch on their platforms, but it is understood that Sky will be adding RT HD to its HD lineup after the current Christmas platform freeze - where no changes to the line up can occur - has finished.

Meanwhile, the standard definition version on Sky and Freesat has been broadcasting today with an incorrect aspect ratio flag, which has resulted in viewers seeing a widescreen picture squashed into the 4:3 traditional picture size, unless the receiver is set to widescreen mode - which forces 4:3 images into 16:9 widescreen format.

On Freeview, the service has become the last channel to go widescreen. Here, the service broadcasts under its old name "Russia Today". The Freeview electronic programme guide substitutes all references to "RT" in programme listings with "Russia Today", so that "RT Documentary" becomes "Russia Today Documentary". It is unclear why this practice occurs.

Freeview: Channel 85, multiplex Arqiva B
Satellite: Manual tuning details:
Eutelsat 28A
11223.67, Vertical polarisation,
Symbol Rate:

  From other websites:
TV Live - RT 2012
Presentational aspects of the move to widescreen and HD, with coverage of the new graphics introduced in line with the changes.
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