Digital UK prepares for Children's and News channel changes
The plans, which were first published last year, state that once the General Entertainment section of the terrestrial channel listing is nearly full, services currently found between Freeview channels 70 and 89 will be moved. Children's channels will move to channels 121-130 and News channels to a range between 131 and 150.
The correspondence from Digital UK comes on the back of recent channel additions, including BT Sport, Fire Hit TV, True Entertainment and Heart TV, some of which are only available in certain areas on Freeview. These services have filled the General Entertainment section up to channel 62. Once channel 65 has been allocated to a channel operator, a 16 week countdown will be triggered. By the Wednesday that follows the 16 week period, children's and news channels will be moved. For example, CBBC would move from channel 70 to channel 121 and BBC News from channel 80 to 131.
The changes will only be delayed if the 16 week countdown ends during a so-called "change freeze", for example during Christmas and New Year, when no channel changes are permitted. The move would happen on the Wednesday of the first week after the freeze ends.
The changes to the children's and news channels were originally due to be implemented in September 2012, but an appeal by Sky on behalf of its news channel stopped the move of the news section from channel 80-89 to 131 onward. This resulted in the linked move of children's channels from channel 70 to 121 being cancelled, as without the news channels acting as a buffer, CITV would have been followed by adult channels in the channel listings.
Digital UK subsequently ruled against Sky's appeal, putting in place the mechanism that gives channel operators 16 week's notice.
According to Digital UK, the move will allow for the expansion of the Freeview EPG and provide space for more services in the future.