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UTV HD launches on satellite in November

Northern Irish broadcaster UTV has confirmed it will be launching its HD channel on Sky and Freesat in November, enabling satellite viewers in Northern Ireland to easily watch shows such as Coronation Street, The X Factor and Downton Abbey in HD

The announcement comes a week after test data for UTV HD was spotted on satellite on a duplicated version of itv HD raising expections of the imminent launch of the service.

The channel will launch on 4th November 2013 in Northern Ireland on Freesat channel 119 - the number currently assigned to itv HD in England, Wales and the Scottish Borders.

In a surprise move, on Sky HD, UTV HD will replace the existing SD channel on 103: the first time a main PSB channel has had its SD channel substituted by the HD simulcast on any digital TV platform. Sky HD subscribers will see the standard definition version move to channel 178. The exception will be viewers that have a Sky HD box without a relevant subscription, where the SD channel will remain on 103 and HD on 178.

Viewers outside of Northern Ireland will be able to manually tune the service in on their satellite receivers when it launches.

UTV HD first launched on Virgin Media in Northern Ireland on the 5th October 2010 before joining Freeview HD following digital switchover on the 24th October 2012. The service was originally expected to go onto satellite by the end of last year, following an agreement with ITV plc and Scottish counterpart STV, outlining the future shape of the Channel 3 network. At one point UTV indicated that it would be launching UTV HD on satellite by the end of the second quarter of 2013, but then stated that "commercial reasons" were holding back the launch.

In comparison, BBC One Northern Ireland rolled out its HD service on all platforms on 24th October 2012. To date, there has been no indication that BBC One Northern Ireland HD will be substituting its standard definition variation, although the BBC has voiced its support for HD/SD channel substitutions in a submission to Freeview guide manager Digital UK earlier this year.

Meanwhile, UTV has confirmed that it has no current plans to make its timeshift channel UTV+1 available on satellite,  available since 2011 on Freeview and Virgin Media in the province.

“20780” – UTV HD
Astra 2F 
(transponder 63)
Symbol Rate
Broadcast standard

article merged 18:24 13/09/2013


  1. Time for UTV to apologize to the viewers of both freesat and sky and on what the real reason for the delays and why they did not launch at the same time as freeview and they stated that they would ensure that they would be on freesat and sky on the dso in 2012

  2. UTV has one stream so could launch on 103 (all platforms) in HD unlike STV who has splits STV up for advertising revenue and for "localisation" along with the rest of ITV.

    Only BBC1 BBC2 and Channel 3 licensee "Network" (UTV/STV/ITV) has the spanner that is they existance is a requirement for regional opt outs. Channel 4 and Channel 5 regional PSB interests are not local unless it is advertising and wanting or "needing" multiple streams is for the interest of revenue of advertising by region cluster therefore be it SD or HD therefore themselve are hindering themselves launching HD as an SD-HD swap as they could easily if wanted for HD be National/London only!

  3. The 'commercial reasons' cited by UTV are simply the cost of getting the program stream out of NI and to the uplink station in mainland UK. This is quite expensive and is why they have been holding off to the last, even to the point where the test stream carried ITV HD right up until day one of the obligatory full test period required by Sky for EPG carriage.
    The uplink to the Belfast Virgin HQ is cheap and straight forward, this is the reason that until DSO day, it was only available on Virgin. It became avaiable on DSO day, not through choice but obligation and the one platform for which there was no obligation but substantial costs (Satellite) was left until last. I had communications with UTV as far back as the summer of 2010 during the World Cup about UTV HD and since then it has been 3 monthly deadline changed and broken promises.
    I guess now, the time for excuses has run out and the realization that many viewers were hacking the regionalisation on their boxes to get ITV HD has forced their hand somewhat as those people will not see UTV advertisements and thus this affects their advertising revenue, they finally thought it was time for them to put their hand in their pocket and catch up with the rest of the UK and Ireland (even RTE beat them to universal HD carriage).
    Whatever way they try and spin this, it was not done for us/you, it was done for themselves for (to use their own phrase) 'commercial reasons'..


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