Technical changes in West and Westcountry ITV region ahead of new ITV1+1 service launch

Next week, ITV will conclude the technical changes needed on satellite to accomodate new regions of ITV1+1, ITV's timeshift channel. 

It concludes a process that began two years ago with an Office of Fair Trading decision to allow ITV to merge or close some of its advertising micro regions, creating extra satellite capacity for more ITV1+1 regions.


Viewers in the former HTV West and Westcountry regions (now part of an ITV Westcountry super-region) who receive ITV1+1 via Sky or Freesat will have their EPGs adjusted, and their satellite receivers will commence pointing to a new ITV1+1 video stream. The changeover will start on Monday and complete by Tuesday. The new ITV1+1 video stream will continue to transmit the existing ITV1+1 version until the end of 29th February 2012.

No retunes are required for owners of Sky and Freesat boxes, as the change will be automatic. However, any recordings planned for ITV1+1 in the West Country region will need to be reset after the changes have been made. Sky subscribers in the region have been receiving postcards advising them to do this.

From 1st March 2012, the version of ITV1+1 transmitted via Freesat and Sky in the South West of England will change to reflect the local version on ITV1 received on channel 103. The technical changes will enable ITV to transmit the relevant variant of the regional news programme "The West Country Tonight" at 7pm on ITV1+1 - which is a partially split bulletin between a Dorset, Devon & Cornwall version and a version covering the remainder of the ITV West Country super region.

The West & West Country regions join the Tyne Tees and Anglia ITV regions to get their own versions of ITV1+1.This will replace the existing ITV1+1 Wales and Westcountry macro regional output with ITV Wales News.

In effect, ITV is replacing macro region versions of ITV1+1 with actual  ITV region versions using capacity created by closing ITV micro regions (regions within a region). The micro regions that were closed as a result of the changes are Tyne Tees South (creating a single Tyne Tees region), Anglia South (merging with the Anglia North region to create a larger Anglia East micro region)  and Merdian S/E (Kent and Sussex micro regions merged into a larger Meridian East micro region, although Meridian Sussex has not been on satellite for a while now).

Macro and micro regions were mostly created for advertising purposes. This allowed advertisers to buy airtime either on several neighbouring regional ITV stations (macro region),  targeting a large chunk of the country and ensuring that all ITV viewers in an area where there is an overlap between two or more stations could see the advert or allowed advertisers to purchase very local ad slots on ITV (micro region) - especially smaller medium sized businesses wishing to advertise in their immediate locality.

It is because of the effect on the TV advertising market, that ITV had to make a request to the Office of Fair Trading in 2010 to get permission to close or merge these micro regions. ITV initially had planned to close the the affected micro regions down in early 2011 in time for the launch of ITV1+1, but had to delay the implementation to please regulators.

Some micro regions contained local news bulletins, such as Tyne Tees South, but have not done so for a while. Micro regions that still contain separate news content within the 6pm regional news programme, such as Central East and Anglia West were not changed.

The new ITV1+1 regions will appear shortly on the digital terrestrial platform Freeview as well. 
Freeview has the technical capacity to regionalise ITV1+1, as ITV1+1 is broadcast on the same digital multiplex as the relevant regional version of ITV1. ITV could have transmitted the correct regional version of ITV1+1 on Freeview from the launch in January 2011, but chose to match the service with the satellite version. This made it an easier service to sell to advertisers who knew that all ITV1+1 viewers within an ITV region would see the advert, regardless of the digital platform being used to access the channel.

Recommended Reading:
The Office of Fair Trading's response to ITV's initial proposal in 2010 to merge or close ITV micro regions in order to be able to broadcast more variants of ITV1+1 using the same satellite transponder space.

Explore the world of ITV regions on the ITV advertising sales website. Includes maps of the ITV regions, which are based on the regional coverage of the former regional stations that made up the ITV network before the creation of a single ITV company for England, Wales, Channel Islands and the Scottish Borders. (STV and UTV remain independent broadcasters on the ITV network for Scotland and Northern Ireland).
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