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Prime Freeview capacity available next year

Digital terrestrial multiplex operator Arqiva has announced it will have a vacant slot for a 24/7 standard definition Freeview channel next year.

Arqiva holds the licence to operate four of the multiplexes that carry Freeview channels to viewers via a conventional aerial, but capacity across the terrestrial multiplexes is limited or non-existent following a surge in new services joining Freeview in the past few years.

Two of Arqiva's multiplexes are solely for standard definition services and reach around 90% of the UK's population. Services on these multiplexes include Sky News, Dave, 4 Music and Spike. These two multiplexes are currently full, but Arqiva says a long-term free-to-air slot for a new channel on one of these multiplexes will become available in 2016 and is inviting broadcasters interested in launching a service on Freeview to get in touch.

Separately, Arqiva also operates multiplexes COM7 and COM8, which are available to just over 70% of the population and require users to have a Freeview HD compatible device. Vintage film channel Talking Pictures has just recently acquired a slot on this capacity, ahead of its launch on Freeview next week.

Freeview multiplexes
Depending where you live, you may be able to receive services carried on up to ten different multiplexes from your local transmitter. Relay transmitters serving smaller communities generally only carry three multiplexes. Each multiplex carries a group of Freeview channels to your TV.

Before digital switchover, the multiplexes were given letters or numbers to identify themselves: 1, 2, A, B, C and D. During digital switchover, the multiplexes began to be given different names (some of which are listed below), although the broadcast licences still refer to the original names. 

PSB1/ BBC-A / Multiplex 1
BBC standard definition TV, plus radio

 PSB2 / D3&4 / Multiplex 2

ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 (S4C in Wales) plus extra services from ITV and C4.

PSB3 / BBC-B /  Multiplex B
The main four channels in HD, plus CBBC HD and Film4+1 in standard definition.

COM4 / SDN / Multiplex A
Commercial channels including ITV3 and 5*.

COM5 / ArqA /  Multiplex C
Commercial channels including Sky News and Dave.

COM6 / ArqB / Multiplex D
Commercial channels including 4Music and Spike.

COM7 / Multiplex E
A mix of HD and SD channels.

COM8 / Multiplex F
Currently just QVC HD channels.

Local   / Comux
The local TV multiplex.

RNI_1 / NI mux
RTÉ TV and TG4 for parts of Northern Ireland.

G_MAN / Manchester TV Network
Up to six extra channels for viewers in Manchester.


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