Another round of strategic channel number changes have taken place on Freeview, as broadcasters make the most of vacated channel number slots to move their services higher up the channel list.
Coinciding with the launch of the new My5 channel, which replaces Channel 5+24 on channel 55, Channel 5 owner Viacom has reshuffled some of its channels:
Channels with a yellow background denote services that can only be received on a DVB-T2 compatible device - e.g. Freeview HD, Freeview Play, YouView, EE TV. Information in brackets refers to the multiplex the channel is broadcast on. Multiplex COM7 reaches just over 70% of UK households - if you can get BBC News HD on channel 107, you can receive the channels listed above.
The reshuffle fills gaps left by Capital and Heart TV, two music channels that were originally available in the Manchester area on channels 54 and 56. Their removal freed up both channel numbers for national use.
Viacom has made use of Freeview channel allocation rules allowing broadcasters to group their families of channels closer together when vacated channel numbers become available. Although three of the four channels grouped together operate as part-time services and with limited coverage, it ensures that Viacom can benefit from higher-ranking channel numbers should it wish to launch full-time services in the future as more bandwidth is made available for DVB-T2 services. A part-time 5USA+1 first launched on Freeview down on channel 83 just six months ago, but its existence on Freeview has now secured a slot nearly 30 places higher in the channel list.
In other changes:
The Community Channel's hours have changed, with the service (on channel 63) now available from midnight until 8am, using some of the downtime bandwidth of BT Showcase.
Taking over channel 78 is "Shop 8-12", a new shopping channel from the owner of Jewellery Maker, which is, as the name suggests, available from 8am to midday.
Channel 85 has been reserved by Hochanda, which from 3rd November will be able to broadcast on Freeview in a slot with its own name. It's a goal the crafting and hobby channel has had since first appearing on Freeview, using capacity sub-contracted from ITV's The Store on channel 39. By launching a 'coming soon' slate on channel 85, the channel is making use of rules that allow broadcasters to do just that for a maximum of three months - channels cannot broadcast static slates for more than that period and retain their channel number. (UPDATE: the Hochanda channel is active around 4am - not really for the benefit of viewers, more as an additional strategic move to secure the slot.).
Following the changes, channels 83 and 84 remain vacant at the present time. Keep It Country on channel 87 has not yet availed itself of the opportunity to move up the channel list. Coming this autumn on Freeview is a new entertainment channel from A+E Networks, which based on licence details issued by Ofcom, will be called 'Blaze'.
Other channels that have recently acquired a Freeview broadcast licence include 5STAR+1, The Craft Channel, Clubland TV and QVC Style (currently also available via the red button on connected devices through channels 16 and 35). Details about their plans for Freeview haven't been made public at this stage.
This week's changes follow hot on the heels of the BBC's reconfiguration of channels for the Olympics, a frequency change for three streamed channels and a number of commercial radio stations, plus last week's shuffle-up of Vintage TV and Dave Ja Vu.
In a fortnight, the BBC will be reconfiguring its Freeview channels back to normal following the conclusion of Rio 2016. But there is currently no further information about any other changes that might be happening: the communication of changes to some commercial channels tend to be haphazard with little or no prior warning.