Update : Problem fix: Some viewers with Sony/Pioneer recorders have reported difficulty receiving channels. Powering off and then restarting should resolve this. (source: Digital UK). Since the article below was written over the weekend, it's been confirmed that the fault was due to issues with the programme data transmitted on Sky channels, such as Pick TV. The problem didn't just affect Sony/Pioneer recorders, some manufactured by Vestel under budget brand names were also hit, but with different symptoms.
The original article has been retained below, for your reference.
Sony are this weekend working on a fix to a fault which has rendered many of its DVD recorders unable to access or record Freeview.
Owners of the affected equipment, which includes the HXD range, such as the Sony RDR-HXD970 and HXD870/890 reported losing access to Freeview generally after 9pm on Friday night. Some Pioneer models with similar firmware are also affected. During the day today, users found their boxes stuck in update mode.
Internet forums have been awash with frustrated users, with some users highlighting a workaround involving changing the country settings to "France" when initiating a retune to continue watching programmes, albeit without access to the Freeview TV guide.
More details on troubleshooting from the Sony Community Forum >
a516digital is not responsible for the content or availability of other sites.
There isn't yet an official reason as to why there is a problem. Some users have pointed their finger at Digital UK, the operators of the digital terrestrial television platform and the Freeview Electronic Programme Guide (EPG). However Digital UK has not reported any transmission changes, with any changes normally not done on a Friday evening. BBC News reports that "Sony HXD recorders, such as the RDR-HXD870 model, which were updated Friday with the firmware 1.70 fix, seem to be affected by the issue."
However, some users of Vestel equipment - budget range Freeview+ recorders branded with names such as "Digihome" and "Luxor" - have reported crashes that appear to coincide with the use of series links on the Sky owned PICK TV on channel 11. The Sky EPG data for its Freeview channels is now being linked by some as the likely cause of the Sony issue as well.
On Sunday afternoon, Digital UK tweeted "Some viewers with Sony/Pioneer recorders have reported difficulty receiving channels. Powering off and then restarting should resolve this."
These technical faults are separate to other reception problems experienced by some Freeview viewers in the past week, whereby the area of high pressure over the UK has increased incoming co-channel interference from other UK and continental transmitter sites, and is also not related to the rollout of 4G services, which would not just affect certain branded equipment.
Whatever is the cause this time around, viewers will be hoping that normality will return soon.
updated 12:43 and 13:56