BT Vision channel number clash causes Freeview channel blackout for subscribers
BT currently offers TV channels on two different platforms: YouView - which is unaffected - and its older BT Vision platform, which has been kept alive in order to provide access to Sky Sports 1 and 2, which BT isn't allowed to offer via YouView, as well as to offer terrestrial access to BT Sport to subscribers outside of its fibre optic broadband network area.
Both platforms used by BT are hybrid - combining digital terrestrial TV (Freeview) with IPTV. Following a recent consultation by terrestrial platform manager Digital UK, hybrid platform operators such as BT and TalkTalk have been assigned channel numbers 400-599 for their services so they do not clash with existing Freeview channel numbers, which are assigned to numbers between 1 and 399 and 700-799.
However, the older BT Vision platform continues to offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 on channels 41 and 42, the channel numbers originally allocated to Sky Sports when it was distributed alongside the Freeview service on the digital terrestrial television network. Despite the service now being distributed via broadband to Vision+ boxes, the channel numbers - which are in the number range solely reserved for terrestrial channels - have been retained, creating a channel number clash.
Following the allocation of channel 42 to Freeview newcomer Travel Channel by Digital UK at the beginning of August, some BT Vision customers complained that they were missing out on the channel, seeing Sky Sports 2 instead on that channel number. When channel 41 was reassigned to Food Network on Tuesday 27th August, a second channel became withheld from BT Vision users. Unlike Travel Channel, Food Network had been previously available to viewers via its old channel number - channel 48. This has prompted more viewers to notice the loss of a Freeview channel due to the Sky Sports channel number clash.
BT has so far not suggested a remedy to restore the missing channels.
If BT was allowed to distribute Sky Sports 1 and 2 via YouView, they would be assigned channels 501 and 502 under current YouView channel numbering rules, which aims to harmonise channel numbers between channels 400-599 - the channel range reserved for services from BT TV and TalkTalk on YouView.