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Confirmation: More Freeview channel changes on 17th October

updated 05/10/2012
  • Appeals by channel operators against the reshuffle rejected.

DMOL administers the Freeview EPG
The organisation overseeing the Freeview Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) has today confirmed that there will be more changes to the Freeview line up on the 17th October 2012.

DMOL has announced that the HD channels will move from channels 50 - 54 to channel 101 onward.

Adult channels will move from channels 90-100 to channel 171 onward.

A retune may be required on devices that do not automatically make changes. Other changes will take place for viewers in Greater Manchester. Northern Ireland viewers can wait until stage 2 of the digital switchover. See below for more details.

These changes - originally announced at the end of July - were originally intended to take place back on the 19th September as part of one single Freeview channel reshuffle, initially affecting all TV, data and streamed channels above channel 50 in the EPG, but most of the reshuffle had to be put on hold following two appeals by broadcasters against the proposed channel changes. 

Notably, changes to adult and HD services were put on hold after an anonymous adult channel provider complained about being moved down the list. In the recent DMOL consultation, adult channel operators were concerned about the effect on revenue (as they rely on callers to premium rate numbers and unlock codes) if they were moved down the list. 

Meanwhile, changes to children's and news sections on Freeview had to be deferred because Sky objected to having Sky News moved from channel 82 to channel 133.

Appeals against the channel moves lodged by that adult channel provider and by Sky have now been rejected by DMOL, paving the way for the moves. In a statement DMOL said:
"Having independently reviewed the evidence put forward, the chair of DMOL does not consider that either party has presented a sufficiently compelling case that the moves should not go ahead. The original decisions will therefore stand."

And Alix Pryde, Director - BBC Distribution added on Friday:
"I think these new numbers make a lot of sense because they are much more memorable than the BBC’s HD channels current numbers of “50” and “54”. It also allows the standard definition General Entertainment channels to be restored to one single block, because the growth in channels had led to it becoming split and sandwiching the HD genre."

Whilst HD and adult channels will now move on the 17th October, changes to the children's and news sections are still on hold, until the "general entertainment" section of the Freeview EPG, which currently starts with BBC One and ends with "Marketplace" is nearly full.

According to DMOL, children's and news channels (including Sky News) will now not move until the Wednesday of the 16th week after Freeview chanel 65 has been allocated. 

So, only once Freeview channel 65 is allocated, will another reshuffle be triggered - and then only around four months after channel 65 is allocated. Children's channels would then move from channel 70 to channel 121 onward, and news channels would move from channel 80 to channel 131 onward. News channels would act as a buffer between children's and adult stations. With the removal of the adult section from channels 90-100 on the 17th October, there would be ample space for the news channel section to grow, even before the proposed future reshuffle.

With services such as Marketplace on channel 61 expected to shuffle up the list once HD channels have been moved from channels 50-54, Freeview is still some way off reaching the trigger for a another reshuffle.

With the move of the news channels, including Sky News effectively deferred, there is the possibility that Sky could take the issue up with Ofcom, as regulator of the Freeview EPG, meaning that this might not be the end of things. Adult channel operators have less ground to stand on, as Ofcom had already indicated its preference to have adult channels removed to the bottom of the TV list.

Channels on the Manchester Television Network multiplex of additional channels, including Movies4Men are expected to shuffle up to channel 51-54 in addition to changes made elsewhere in the UK. Another two channels on top of the four already on air in Greater Manchester are expected to be added around the time of the reshuffle.

Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland viewers don't need to retune - the changes will be incorporated when viewers retune at digital switchover stage 2 on the 24th October, when Freeview HD arrives in the province.

  The Freeview channel list page on this site shows the expected changes.

  Questions? Visit the 17th October Freeview Changes Q&A page click here


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