Free-to-air HD boom for satellite viewers


A decade after its arrival in the UK, HD TV is finally becoming the norm for smaller channels. On satellite, a number of channels are poised to launch for free in HD this summer.

It's good news for sports fans, with three of the services testing to offer HD sports coverage.

Four services that will officially appear on Electronic Programme Guides in the next few weeks are up and running in test mode. All services run on the Astra 2 cluster of satellites at 28.2-28.5E, which is the default satellite for all standard Sky and Freesat installations.


FRANCE 24 (English) HD
The English-language global news channels from Paris has been testing in HD for the last few weeks and is almost ready to officially launch in HD in the UK, having been broadcast across Europe in HD for some time.

Hourly news bulletins, live from Paris, plus topical debate and factual programming fill the schedule, providing a different angle of international events away from the traditional US/UK slant provided by long-running news channels. The channel was praised for its non-sensationalist approach to reporting during recent French terrorist attacks.

Frequency:    11426
Polarisation: Vertical
Symbol Rate:  27500
FEC:          5/6
Mode:         DVB-S
Service ID:   52560

FREESPORTS HD
In less than a year, the channel has gone from launching to going HD on satellite, with live and exclusive coverage of a range of niche sporting events, previously denied to free-to-air TV viewers, with sports covered including ice hockey, tennis, European league football, bowls and rugby league. it is the sister channel of pay TV service Premier Sports.

Now testing with audio and EPG information ahead of a official launch across satellite platforms in July. Readers have told a516digital in recent days that Sky boxes are having difficulties with the audio test transmissions, although they are running fine on Freesat and generic free-to-air receivers, as tested by us.
Frequency:    11508
Polarisation: Vertical
Symbol Rate:  23000
FEC:          2/3
Mode:         DVB-S2
Service ID:   55278



QUEST HD
Ever since the Discovery-owned channel acquired the rights to show English Football League highlights from August, fans have been asking if the channel will launch in HD. Quest's social media outlets duly responded with a yes, and now the channel is testing on satellite. Broadcast free-to-air and due to arrive on both Sky and Freesat, Quest HD will be the home of a growing number of sporting freebies, thanks to Quest's close links with sister channel Eurosport.

Currently testing without audio:
Frequency:    11426
Polarisation: Vertical
Symbol Rate:  27500
FEC:          5/6
Mode:         DVB-S
Service ID:   52580



BBC RED BUTTON HD
If only for Wimbledon 2018, BBC Red Button HD is back with a full-time simulcast of the BBC RB1 service, to be available on both Sky and Freesat services for the duration of the tournament. BBC Red Button will also include five extra standard definition streams, with the full set of extra HD streams from Wimbledon only available on compatible connected devices.
Frequency:    12421
Polarisation: Horizontal
Symbol Rate:  27500
FEC:          2/3
Mode:         DVB-S
Service ID:   6811







  • Satellite Update, June 2018

Update: 29/06: France 24 HD and BBC RB HD now live on Sky and Freesat. Check the main news feed for details of the other channels going live.
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