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North West Freeview Retune Date confirmed

The date that frequencies will be cleared to make way for 4G/LTE mobile broadband services in the North West of England has been set. As a result, Freeview viewers will be required to retune in April to continue watching all available channels in their area.

Viewers in the ITV Granada region will need to retune their Freeview receivers on the 10th April 2013 as the region prepares for more 4G coverage. Up to 3 million households will be affected by the change.

Most viewers will need to retune on the 10th April to regain access to the BBC channels, plus commercial channels including Sky News and Dave, which are broadcast from the region's main transmitter site at Winter Hill on frequencies that are being cleared. Different channels may be affected for viewers of relay transmitters.

Unlike the current 4G offering by mobile company EE, the forthcoming 4G service will operate in the 800 MHz frequency band, which is still partially occupied by TV services in the North West. This means that TV services at the main Winter Hill transmitter in Lancashire and many of its relays will be moving to new frequencies in April, making a retune necessary.

Neighbouring North Wales was the subject of a 4G related clearance retune in November. The Moel Y Parc transmitter in North East Wales cleared frequencies that will be used by the Winter Hill transmitter from next April to avoid interference. Numerous households in North East Wales and along the North Wales coast up to Great Ormes Head still receive North West regional TV on Freeview and will need to retune in April alongside much of North West England.

West Midlands and Yorkshire retunes
Similar retune events will also occur on the 10th April 2013 at the Halesowen, Cowling, Keighley and Skipton transmitter sites. These transmitter sites are the only ones in their respective regions affected by the frequency clearance. Most transmitters, such the Sutton Coldfield transmitter had a late change of plan ahead of digital switchover, incorporating the clearance back in September 2011. Clearance of the whole 800 MHz frequency band for 4G had only been announced in 2009, when it was too late to change the frequency plan for the North West and other regions where switchover was already taking place.

Further details regarding the timing of the retunes will be released by former switchover body Digital UK closer to the time. Digital UK will be responsible for providing consumer information about the retune event. A new company formed by the successful bidders of the forthcoming 4G auction will then take over responsibility where viewer's TV signals are affected by the 4G mobile broadband service.

Technical details of the 10th April 2013 retune in the North West and listing of relay sites affected:

Main transmitters (full Freeview):
Saddleworth D3&4 moves from ch49+ to ch39+;
Winter Hill BBC-A moves from ch62 to ch50; Arq A moves from ch61 to ch49

Relay sites: 
Austwick  D3&4 moves from ch49 to ch39
Bacup BBC-B moves from ch50 to ch40
Birch Vale  BBC-B moves from ch50 to ch40
Blackburn BBC-B moves from ch50 to ch40
Broadbottom BBC-B moves from ch49 to ch39
Dalton BBC-B moves from ch50 to ch40
Darwen  D3&4 moves from ch49 to ch39
Dog Hill  BBC-B moves from ch50 to ch40
Haughton Green BBC-B moves from ch50 to ch40
Mottram in Longendale BBC-B moves from ch50 to ch40
Prestbury BBC-B moves from ch50 to ch40;
Skelmersdale BBC-B moves from ch52 to ch40
Stavely in Cartmel BBC-B moves from ch50 to ch40
Whaley Bridge D3&4 moves from ch49 to ch39
Whalley BBC-B moves from ch50 to ch40
Woodnook D3&4 moves from ch49 to ch39

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