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BBC explains changes to Freeview service during the Olympics

The BBC's director of distribution Alix Pryde has been explaining today how the Olympics will affect distribution of some channels on Freeview during the London games.

The main change will consist of BBC Three going 24 hours during the Olympics. In addition, a second red button stream will return in the evenings on channel 302 to give more coverage. To free up limited capacity on the BBC's digital multiplex to allow the above to happen, BBC Parliament will go off air for the duration of the games, as it did back in 2008, during the Bejing Olympics. Parliament is in recess during the Olympics.

As reported here late last night, and updated this morning, CBBC will move multiplexes in pre-switchover regions only during the games. It has been confirmed that CBBC will temporarily switch to channel 73 in the Tyne Tees and Ulster TV regions.

Explaining the change and why the CBBC channel will be on channel 73 in these regions, Alix Pryde said in her blogpost:

By the summer there will be just two parts of the UK still to go through digital switchover: Northern Ireland and North East England. For viewers in these areas we are making an additional change to move CBBC to a different channel number - but just for the period of the Olympic Games. This is to do with the way that BBC Three and CBBC usually share capacity. So just for viewers in these two areas, CBBC will temporarily move from channel 70 to channel 73 on Freeview.
Viewers in Northern Ireland and North East England will need to re-tune between now and the Olympics to carry on watching CBBC, but the benefit of that re-tune is that you will gain access to our additional BBC Red Button service 302 (see above). During the Olympics, CBBC's usual channel number, 70, will show a message to remind viewers to go to channel 73. If you live in one of these areas you should be able to see channel 73 once you've done a re-tune. The good news is that the temporary channel number means that you will not need to do a second re-tune when the Olympics finish in August in order to get CBBC back at channel 70. Given that switchover this autumn will require you to re-tune your Freeview TV or box twice, we thought that viewers would appreciate our removing the need to re-tune an extra time.
This change doesn't impact Freeview viewers across the rest of the country, who can continue to watch CBBC at channel 70. Nor does it affect satellite or cable viewers where CBBC will stay on its current channel number.

As with changes we've made in the past we'll also be putting information up on our Reception Advice website and on BBC Red Button p9991 on Freeview. Nearer the time we will be reminding Freeview viewers to re-tune using pop-up messages onscreen as well as a reminder on the BBC Red Button bridge.

Freeview HD service
Alix Pryde also confirmed that for Freeview HD viewers, the extra HD red button service on Freeview channel 304, which will be a simulcast of the standard definition HD service on channel 301, will be in the Freeview HD line up by mid July. The regulatory process has already begun, with Ofcom issing a digital terrestrial television licence for "301 HD"  for the temporary extra service.

Most Freeview HD receivers should automatically detect and store the channel when it begins broadcasting.

Some Freeview HD receivers (including Smart TVs) will be able to access all 24 Olympic video streams via the internet, including through the new BBC Sport App. No indication was given yet as to which Smart TV platforms the app would be available on in time for the Olympics.

DAB Olympics Service.
On DAB, BBC Radio 5 live Olympics Extra will be available in the DAB line up on the BBC National DAB multiplex (ensemble) by no later than 23rd July. DAB radios should detect the extra service when tuned to a station on the BBC National DAB multiplex once it is live.


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