Timeline: Channel 5 HD on Freeview



The appearance of behind-the-scenes testing for Channel 5 HD on Freeview at the end of April 2016 and the announcement by Sky that encryption of the channel will be lifted is the end of a saga that's been rumbling on since 2009 over the channel's appearance on Freeview HD.

Here are all the key moments of how we got here:

  • 2008/2009: Ofcom allows broadcasters to bid for various Freeview HD slots, which will be made available on the BBC owned "Multiplex B". Channel 5 applies for the fourth slot, going head-to-head with a joint bid between Channel 4 and S4C. (The other three slots are taken by the BBC, ITV/STV/UTV and Channel 4/S4C)
  • June 2009: Channel 5 is announced as the winner of the slot on 11th June 2009. According to Ofcom, "Channel 5’s application initially involves simulcasting its main public services channel programmes at peak time on HD. This means that popular programmes such as The Gadget Show, UEFA Europa League, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and blockbuster movie premiers could become available in HD from late 2010."
  • December 2009: Freeview HD launches to the trade, broadcasting from transmitters at Crystal Palace (London) and Winter Hill (near Bolton)
  • March 2010: Channel 5 is announced as being out of the running for the HD slot, after failing to meet "key criteria". Channel 4 and S4C's bid, which failed to make the grade in 2009 is also permanently dismissed as an alternative solution. Meanwhile, Freeview HD is launched to public with a launch line-up of BBC HD, ITV HD and 4 HD. S4C's Clirlun launches in Wales a month later.
  • July 2010: Channel 5 launches in HD on Sky and Virgin Media on the 13th July. On the 23rd July, Channel 5 is taken over by newspaper proprietor Richard Desmond's Northern and Shell business after being sold by German broadcaster RTL.
  • November 2010: The slot left open by the failure of Channel 5 to launch in HD on Freeview is used to launch BBC One HD.
  • September 2011: Ofcom invites broadcasters to apply for a new Freeview HD slot.
  • November 2011: Channel 5 is given the slot after being the sole applicant.
  • December 2011: Channel 5 announces it can't resolve commercial issues allowing it to join Freeview HD.
  • March 2012: Ofcom pulls out of advertising and allocating Freeview HD slots. The BBC advertises the available capacity in Broadcast magazine, which can be used by 1 HD channel or 3 SD channels, but no new services materialise.
  • Summer 2012: The slot that would have been used for Channel 5 HD is used for a temporary Red Button HD service for the 2012 London Olympic Games by the BBC, then by Channel 4 in August 2012 for the 2012 London Paralympic Games. Meanwhile, Channel 5 reiterated that it was still committed to launching an HD service on Freeview in the next "two to three years".
  • December 2012: The BBC once again advertises the available capacity in Broadcast magazine, which can be used by 1 HD channel or 3 SD channels, but once again, no new services materialise.
  • June - November 2013:  The slot was used by the BBC to launch a temporary BBC Red Button HD channel providing HD coverage of various events, including HD simulcasts of Glastonbury from BBC Three and the Proms from BBC Four, and a Doctor Who 3D special in November.
  • October 2013: On Sky, Channel 5 HD moves from being free-to-view to being a fully fledged member of Sky's subscription offering -  Sky viewers without a Sky Entertainment Extra Pack subscription are no longer able to receive the channel.
  • October 2013: Freeview HD channel 105, which would have been given to Channel 5 HD had it have launched on the platform, is allocated to BBC Three HD, launching in December 2013.
  • May 2014: Channel 5 is sold to US media giant Viacom in the second ownership change since the Channel 5 HD launch debacle started.
  • November 2015: The BBC confirms that BBC Three is closing in early 2016, which will free up Freeview channel 105.
  • December 2015: Channel 5 begins carrying a duplicated version of Channel 5 HD on its own satellite capacity. The Sky-hosted version of the channel continues as normal.
  • February 2016: Playout of Channel 5 HD switches from Sky to Ericsson, as part of a wider deal between Channel 5 and Ericsson.
  • February 2016: Ofcom issues Channel 5 HD a licence to broadcast on Freeview.
  • March 2016: Channel 5 HD moves to Channel 5/Viacom-owned satellite capacity after being hosted by Sky since its launch in 2010.
  • April 2016: Freesat data gets added to Channel 5 HD's satellite feed and begins testing on Freeview, off the EPG.
  • May 2016: Sky announces Channel 5 HD's encryption will be lifted on 3rd May. Later, it is confirmed that the channel will appear on the Freeview and Freesat EPGs 24 hours later on the 4th May.



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