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Satellite Update: SkyQ by default, Freesat withdrawals

Sky is planning to make its recently launched SkyQ box the default receiver for new subscribers, with the older Sky+ service only made available in a reduced number of circumstances.

It comes as no surprise that Sky is moving new subscribers towards SkyQ, as it has made no secret that it wants to move away from its base of older Sky boxes, including those boxes that can only receive standard definition services.

Under the plans, all new Sky subscribers will be offered a 1TB SkyQ box as standard, with an option to use the older Sky+ only available under limited circumstances, such as when a subscriber has to use a communal satellite dish that hasn't got a SkyQ LNB, otherwise it won't be possible for new subscribers to choose a non-SkyQ box.

The default SkyQ box offered to customers will lack full functionality, unless an additional fee of £12 a month is paid, which would enable multiscreen streaming and access to Sky UHD. An upgrade to a 2TB Sky Q box will also be available.

For existing subscribers, nothing changes, although a voluntary option to upgrade to SkyQ is available.

***update: the change to SkyQ by default occured on 06/10/2016. 

Freesat channel withdrawals
Freesat appears to be struggling to retain or gain channels. New channel Blaze - despite being free-to-air on satellite failed to arrive on Freesat at launch, and  three channels have during September quietly pulled the plug on the platform:

Chilled and Clubland TV were removed mid-month: for Clubland TV it's the second time the channel has been withdrawn from Freesat. Chilled TV was removed from Freesat just over a year after it first launched, as a replacement for Planet Pop. In contrast to the reaction of the withdrawal, and subsequent reinstatement of Vintage TV earlier this year, the removal of Chilled and Clubland has had a muted reaction.

International news channel Euronews was removed last week from Freesat channel 204 in a surprise move. Majority owner Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has made a number of major changes in the format of the station since his purchase in 2015, leading up to major relaunch earlier this year with new programme segments and a wider global focus. The channel also launched offshoot service AfricaNews this year. Euronews first launched on 1st January 1993, but didn't become readily available in the UK until during the time ITN was the channel's largest shareholder.

All three channels can continue to be seen free-to-air via the Astra 2 satellite cluster and via Sky. Alternatively, they are available online at 

Rishtey Cineplex
The replacement for UMP Movies will launch on 29th September on Sky channel 797. The channel will be free-to-air, so also available on non-Sky boxes through manual tuning. Rishtey Cineplex is also set to join terrestrial service Freeview shortly, for viewers who can already receive sister channel Rishtey on the platform. Pre-launch tests now viewable on Astra 2G, 11225 H. 

Nollywood channel joins Sky
ROK, from the Nigerian film studios of the same name, will launch on Sky channel 344 on the 29th September. Like Rishtey Cineplex, the channel is broadcasting free-to-air on the Astra 2 satellite cluster, via Astra 2G  11464 H.

Arirang World HD
The international channel from South Korea is testing free-to-air via the Astra 2 satellite cluster ahead of an official UK launch. [Update: now on Sky channel 690 as of 4:14pm, 26/09/2016, added to Freesat 214 a short time later] Tests can be seen on Astra 2G, 11225 V. Tests first appeared during the summer, but were encrypted.

Other satellite
Dutch moves
The removal of the main Dutch broadcasters from Astra 1 continues apace, with NPO3 among the latest to go. The removal is due to complete next month when NPO1 and 2 are switched-off. It's part of a migration to Astra 3 (23.5 East) and a switch to HD-only broadcasting. Pay TV operator CanalDigitaal, part of the M7 Group, encrypts all national broadcasters, and by the end of the year, all regional channels from the Netherlands will also be encrypted, with the TV channel for Drenthe the last to be encrypted. For those without connections to the Netherlands, the only easy way to watch Dutch TV via satellite is via the free-to-air international service BVN, which is available via Astra 1 and Eutelsat Hotbird.

Two stations axed
Youth channel EinsPlus and cultural/archive performance channel ZDF Kultur will cease broadcasts at 2300 UK (0000 CET) at the end of Friday 30th September 2016. The channels are being axed to pay for a new online youth service [Update: called Funk*] from German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF, due to launch on 1st October.
Until the end of September, both channels continue in SD and HD on Astra 1 (19.2 East).

Austria News
A new news channel for Austria goes live 26th September. is available on Astra 1KR, 11273 H. The channel is operated by national daily newspaper Österreich in partnership with CNN.

*name announced 29/09/2016