More SD TV for Freeview HD devices

The number of standard definition channels only available to viewers with newer Freeview equipment continues to grow with the addition of new channels using newer DVB-T2 technology.

Using capacity that once promised to rapidly increase the number of HD channels on Freeview, Viacom's 5STAR+1 has launched on the platform, where it's available in some areas on channel 55, replacing My5, which has moved to channel 54.

5STAR+1 alongside The Craft Channel, which is found on channel 88 and launches next week, are taking bandwidth that was freed up this week following the end of the temporary Olympic Red Button service offered by the BBC. Both channels are carried on multiplex "COM8", a group of channels transmitted in the DVB-T2 standard, that is only receivable on compatible devices, such as Freeview HD, Freeview Play, YouView and EE TV boxes. 

But coverage of these services is restricted to just over 70% of UK households as part of a temporary arrangement ahead of a major Freeview retune toward the end of the decade.

Capacity on COM8 and sister multiplex COM7 was originally promoted as providing more capacity for HD channels to launch on Freeview. But with the HD versions of many Freeview channels locked into lucrative carriage contracts with pay TV operators, keen to keep HD as a premium option, the number of HD channels launching on Freeview since the capacity became available has been subdued, with teleshopping company QVC and Kremlin-funded RT being the most recent takers of the additional HD capacity on the platform and Channel 5 HD taking a national HD slot after a delay of more than five years.

Viacom, owner of Channel 5, has been gradually stockpiling additional capacity on Freeview using the DVB-T2 broadcast standard, playing catch-up with ITV, Channel 4 and UKTV in securing Freeview slots and channel numbers. Viacom has now got 10 SD and 1 HD slots on Freeview, not including Rishtey, which Viacom operates as part of a joint venture in India. Of the 10 SD slots, four use the DVB-T2 standard, including music channel VIVA which was changed to a DVB-T2 service following the launch of Spike in 2015.

Earlier this year, the switch to DVB-T2 for CBS Drama caused great confusion among viewers who didn't understand the implications of the new technology and limited coverage offered at the present time for such services, prompted a backlash on its Facebook page. Al Jazeera now only distributes its service on Freeview via the DVB-T2 standard, albeit in HD, having abandoned its previous slot earlier this year.

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  1. I don't get COM8 why is it lower power than the others?

    1. It and COM7 broadcast at a lower power, hence reduced coverage. In some areas, COM8 is broadcast at even less power, meaning there are a very small number of homes that can get one but not the other.
      COM7 carries BBC Four HD, BBC News HD among others, while COM8 carries QVC Beauty HD and now 5STAR+1.

  2. It's great that more are making use of DVB-T2, but there problem is that no one is bothered about educating the British about this & SD services using the newer coding. I don't see the 2nd switch over going well at all with many people getting confused. They need to know the benefits that DVBT2 brings

  3. Using the capacity that was once promised to be used to increase the number of HD channels is a big step backwards.
    Will i be watching SD channels on my tv? No way is the answer to that.
    Last time i looked at my calendar i am sure it said the year was 2016.
    SD is a joke and the future is always further away in the uk.

  4. Time for ofcom to state to all TV channels that all there channel have to broadcast in full HD 1080p by 2021 if not will not be aloud broadcast on Any platform in the UK sky freesat freeview youview Virgin

    1. The chances of Ofcom overriding market forces to dictate this is approximately 0%.

  5. Hi. I would like to report that Movie Mix launched this morning on Virgin channel 425. It is no longer a Freeview exclusive.

    1. Hi. Thanks for your comment about the addition of MovieMix on Virgin. Our MovieMix FAQ page was updated 23 hours ago with this change.


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