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More Freeview retunes planned for early 2018

More viewers are expected to be affected by Freeview frequency changes early next year.

Following an Ofcom decision to clear additional TV frequencies for 5G mobile broadband services by mid-2020, plans have been made to move Freeview channels to new frequencies, triggering a series of retune events across the UK.

The schedule indicatating when the retunes will start has been updated, with more viewers to be affected in the next six months. Transmitter masts around the UK have been buzzing with engineering work to prepare for the Freeview changes, including the installation of new antenna systems via helicopter.

Who is affected?
The completion of work means many viewers in the Anglia, Central, Granada, London, Meridian and West TV regions will need to retune Freeview at some point before Easter 2018. Originally just the West Midlands was to be affected early in 2018.

It follows the completion this week of the 700MHz frequency clearance exercise in the North of Scotland, which has resulted in some households in the former Grampian TV region having to retune to retain Freeview channels.

The impact of the changes will vary depending on the transmitter a viewer receives Freeview from, with more channels affected in some areas than others. Additionally in some areas, the changes will need to be done in stages as neighbouring regions switch around them, to avoid interference.

The original timescale for changes saw changes occuring in each TV region steadily between mid-2017 and mid-2020. Now, many parts of England will see at least one set of change within the first three months of 2018 and many more by the end of June 2018.

Viewers will be notified of exact dates and how the changes will affect Freeview reception at their location soon. Once dates have been finalised, the Freeview website will be updated with viewer support information, and a dedicated telephone number will be available to assist viewers, especially those who find they need a new aerial following the changes.

Although Ofcom is leading on the changes in the UK, it is in line with an international agreement on frequency changes made two years ago.

Provisional start dates for each region (Ofcom)

Work has recently taken place on Brighton's Whitehawk Hill mast and during the first week of October, the main Midlands transmitter at Sutton Coldfield is having work on it in preparation for the changes.

Although the Border region had a major retune event in March 2017, further changes are due as Freeview frequencies in the neighbouring Tyne Tees and STV Central regions are switched.