The Freeview Retune: Your Questions

This week has seen the conclusion of a reorganisation of the Freeview service in order to ensure that the platform can manage with the increased number of channels now available (and those still to come) on Freeview and hybrid service YouView.

While this last month has created a few issues for some viewers, the problems have generally been less severe than during other recent major retune events in 2009 and 2012, when the channel numbers were given a major reshuffle.

a516digital has a selection of some of your comments to see what the retune-related stumbling blocks were...

CHANNELS:
I can't get BBC Four HD on Freeview... Why not?
BBC Four HD and some other channels are currently restricted in coverage across the UK. This is unlikely to change until a final decision is made about selling off further spectrum to mobile network operators, which is likely to follow a major international conference on the subject in 2015. In the long term, it should be possible to carry all BBC HD services on the same frequency that has near-universal coverage.

Why can I get children's channel POP+1, but not POP?
It's an interesting strategic decision by the channel's owners that POP+1 has a slot that reaches more households than POP: the digital 'multiplex' (group of channels) used for POP+1 reaches just over 90% of the population.

At present the main POP channel is only broadcast in local TV coverage areas. It's one of two services that uses spare bandwidth that's available alongside local TV. But local TV isn't available everywhere, so many won't get POP either. As a result, quite a few viewers have POP+1 but not POP.

What's happened to Chart Show TV?
Chart Show TV was available in local TV coverage areas on channel 68 until the end of August. It disappeared for a few days, and re-appeared in the Manchester area only. So unless you're living in the parts of the Manchester area where Chart Show TV lives on, you won't be able to receive this channel at present via Freeview.

I've lost Magic/Kiss/Kiss Fresh/Kisstory/Kerrang. How do I get them back?
These radio stations changed frequency last month. For a short transitional period, you could find them twice in the Freeview guide: one set on channels 712, 713, 714, 715 and 717 and another set on channels 792, 793, 794, 795 and 796.

This has now ended. Listeners who retuned Freeview on or after 3pm on 3rd September should have got the correct, new versions of the stations on 712-717 and the old versions on 792-796. Anecdotal reports suggest some receivers were a bit confused: if you don't have these stations on 712-717 and have retuned, you may need to do a "first time installation" or "factory reset" as a last resort, but note it will delete your channel list and some Freeview+ devices may delete pre-programmed recordings.

Please note that these stations are now on the frequency that carries Sky News, Pick and Challenge. So if you can't get Sky News, Pick and Challenge on Freeview, you won't be able to receive them.

Official advice on retuning is available from Digital UK: http://www.digitaluk.co.uk/howtoretune

What's the point of TruTV+1, ITV4+1 etc, they only broadcast for a few hours each day?
These channels use the bandwidth freed during the downtime of other services to broadcast for 2-3 hours a day. Their purpose tends to be strategic rather than for the viewer's benefit - after all ITV4+1 only comes on when there's teleshopping.

Broadcasters may park a channel in order to keep a channel number available to them in the future - without having to launch a channel right at the bottom of the channel list, which they might have to do otherwise. Also, if they are successful in acquiring additional, but hard-to-get bandwidth in the future, they do have the option to increase the channel's hours.

Similar things happen on Sky: although it's channel numbers rather than bandwidth that's in short supply. To launch a standard definition channel on Sky, broadcasters have to buy an existing standard definition slot, and may park a +1 or +2 channel to secure the slot until they're ready to broadcast a new service.

Is channel (enter name here) coming to Freeview?
If there hasn't been an official announcement, then most likely no. Broadcasters were recently given the opportunity to bid for soon-to-be-available slots on Freeview. We await further news in due course.

PICTURE/EQUIPMENT:
Picture quality is poor
(This answer relates to ongoing poor picture quality rather than interference related issues, which may cause spells of poor picture quality when otherwise the picture is good) 
Picture quality depends on a number of factors, including the amount of bandwidth used for each channel. Low bandwidth is often blamed by some viewers. Generally, commercial broadcasters can reduce distribution costs when they use less bandwidth (same as digital radio) - this may make the difference in a channel being available on Freeview or not. The Freeview HD service offers a notable improvement on services such as ITV.

However, if your picture is excessively blocky, this may be a reception problem: too little or (believe it or not) sometimes too much signal can cause issues. Also, if you have a Freeview box connected to a LCD/LED TV using a old Scart cable, it may be an idea to switch to an HDMI connection - and most definitely if you have a Freeview HD box. Also, the Freeview picture quality on TVs where the picture settings have "sharpness" set on 'high' or 'maximum' will tend to be off-putting - it shows up every artifact. It's not something many viewers check.

Why does retuning make me lose my scheduled recordings?
A particular problem that still crops up after all these years with some Humax Freeview+ boxes. A solution is to keep retunes to the minimum (i.e. only do a retune when there have been major changes) and to take a picture with your phone, tablet or camera of the screen with the scheduled recordings, which you can use to re-programme them later.

Here are some Humax related support websites: http://hummy.tv/forum/ or http://www.humaxdigital.com/uk/support/ 

Why does my Sony RDR-HXD 790 no longer retain channels after the retune?
This particular device had troubles during other recent major retune events. Here's a link back to 2010 from Sony Support. Although a fix was made available, the a516digital reader who raised this query has been told it can't support the increased number of channels now available on Freeview. The deletion of a number of "this service has moved" channels on the 1st October may help slightly. But with more channels coming on board, the long term prognosis is poor. However, it is an older model, and many who originally had these receiver may well have upgraded in the meantime.

My smart TV had problems when CBS Action moved from 90 to 70.
Smart TVs are normally smart enough to sort channel changes out themselves. CBS Action moved to the channel number vacated by CBBC last month.

Interestingly, and possibly related, a Samsung F series TV recognised on the evening of the 1st October that the most of the 'services have moved' channels had ceased resulting in a delete prompt. It didn't do that for the BBC 'services have moved' channels, where it tried briefly to load a data service. This did rectify itself later though, but thwarted CBS Action's move to 70. Why this glitch happened and what caused it is unknown. Crucially doing a new retune would have cleared the problem.

CHANNEL ORDERING:
Why has Freeview moved the Children's and Adult channels closer together?
That was an allegation circulating on the 3rd September, along with an incorrect one accusing Freeview of moving CBBC away from the other children's channels (it's not). In fact, for viewers with non-HD boxes, the children's and adult channels are the same number of button pushes away as they were beforehand. The news channels continue to act as an intentional buffer between the two.

Why does Freeview allow Adult channels to be available free-to-air in children's bedrooms?
Following a detailed consultation on the matter Digital UK (who manage the channel numbering and technical side of UK digital terrestrial broadcasting), made major changes to adult channels in 2012, moving them to a dedicated block and creating clear "bookends" either side of this channel range. Channel names have the name "Adult" prefixed, although TVX seems to have avoided this. But there's text services in the 200s plus a streamed channel on channel 243 dedicated to content that parents may not want their children seeing. There is no law prohibiting such channels from acquiring bandwidth in an open 'marketplace'.

Digital UK have delivered basic technical safeguards. The other safeguards come via parental control: parents should ensure that TVs in children's bedrooms support PIN protection. Depending on the receiver, you may be able to delete the channels in question, and set a PIN to stop children retuning them back in. Some TVs allow you to hide the channels instead of deleting them outright, and if they are selected, then a PIN request comes up, effectively blocking access. While this does require some effort, it is similar to having controls on what children can access via mobiles, tablets and computers.

Why aren't the shopping channels given their own section?
It has been suggested, and following a consultation is not going to happen. Regular readers will be aware that the threat of moving QVC off channel 16 was even raised by MPs at Westminster a few years back. However, the closure of bid and price drop in April 2014 and the conversion of "Big Deal" into "MovieMix" a year earlier means that there are fewer shopping channels among the most prominent channel numbers on Freeview.



 






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5 comments:

  1. Despite months of planning, HD news channels get 'orphaned' on 107 & 108, but HD children's channels don't get left behind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 100% deliberate. Children's HD channels are exempt from being in the main HD section, in order to keep all dedicated children's content together in one section. A review of the HD section is due next year, and I suspect the issue of how receivers should handle HD/SD swaps will be dealt with.

      Delete
  2. Deliberate, perhaps, but still stupid. They should have been moved to 137 and 138.

    ReplyDelete
  3. can you tell me the new frequency for the tv channel Challenge and Challenge +1 on Freeview as I have no signal at present.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Challenge+1 is not broadcast on Freeview. Are you actually receiving Freeview - the terrestrial TV service through an aerial (not a satellite dish)?

      Freesat (via sat dish) offers Challenge and Challenge +1, and its satellite frequency changed earlier this summer - if you're receiving via satellite, you can find advice at http://www.freesat.co.uk/help/got-freesat/fix-a-problem/restore-missing-channels

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      If you are receiving Freeview (via an aerial), Challenge should appear on channel 46. If you are missing Challenge, you may also be missing Pick and Sky News, which are broadcast on the same Freeview frequency. You may wish to retune your Freeview TV or receiver.

      For more advice on retuning Freeview, see also: http://www.digitaluk.co.uk/howtoretune/retuning_instructions

      Delete

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