BBC readies 5th stream on Freeview HD multiplex

  last updated 19:14

Ahead of extra Red Button HD Olympic coverage next month on Freeview HD channel 304, the BBC has today activated the fifth stream on the Freeview HD multiplex. 

BBC Red Button HD caption
Getting ready for Freeview HD 304...

The channel currently transmits a static video caption using around 1 Mbps of bandwidth on the multiplex, with a message like that currently on Channel 302. When the stream is ready to go, it will appear on Freeview HD receivers on channel 304. The extra service will be an HD simulcast of the Red Button service on channel 301.

This HD service will join BBC One HD, BBC HD, ITV1 HD and C4HD on Freeview this summer.

After the Olympics, the fifth stream will be allocated to another, as yet unknown channel.

The Freeview HD multiplex has for a while been running as if there was a fifth stream already active, with the then four active videostreams (BBC One HD, BBC HD, ITV1 HD, Channel 4 HD [or Clirlun in Wales]) not using up the full bandwidth technically available on the multiplex. As a consequence, picture quality should not have been compromised due to the extra stream coming live.

The Olympic HD service will be available via suitable Freeview HD receivers across most of the UK via all transmitters, except for viewers in most of the Tyne Tees and Ulster TV regions, where switchover will not have been completed in time for the Olympics.

In the Tyne Tees region,  viewers in range of the "advance network" low powered HD service from the Pontop Pike transmitter which serves the Tyneside area will be able to receive the service, and some Ulster region viewers near the NE coast of the province may be able to receive a service from over the Irish Sea.

Last big summer for the Red Button through the airwaves
The Olympics marks the beginning of the end of being able to select several different events through the Red Button via the traditional means of receiving TV. From autumn, all platforms will see Red Button channels cut to one. However, in last month's Delivering Quality First (DQF) report, the BBC Trust indicated further investment in IPTV services, which will provide a different pathway to households for additional sports content. Already, the BBC has announced 24 additional video streams of Olympic events to be provided via its website. 
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