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BBC confirms arrangements for new HD channels

A week after a website data revealed launch dates, the BBC has confirmed its plans for new HD channels.

The BBC will launch BBC Two Wales and BBC Two Northern Ireland in HD at the end of November, but while BBC Two Wales HD will be available on all main digital TV platforms, the HD service for Northern Ireland will only be carried on Freeview, YouView* and iPlayer. Availability on Virgin Media is still to be confirmed.

BBC website schedule data confirms the plan is to launch both services on Thursday 29th November 2018.

However, there will be no BBC Two Scotland HD - BBC Two's Scottish service is being closed in February 2019 to make way for the new BBC Scotland channel. At that point, BBC Two in Scotland will carry the main network schedule from London. BBC Scotland HD will be available on all digital TV platforms from the yet to be disclosed launch day.

Confirming the impending launch and addressing concerns from viewers in England, who are unable to receive their local BBC One in HD, the BBC's director of Distribution and Business Development, Kieran Clifton said:
"We are not in a position at this point to provide all of our regional feeds in HD, owing to lack of broadcast capacity and native HD broadcasting capability across the majority of the English regions. However, we continue to look at ways in which we can deliver further HD services within the constraints we face. For now, we’re pleased to be able to take another step on our journey towards an all-HD future."

Satellite - Sky and Freesat
BBC Two Wales HD will appear on Sky and Freesat channel 102, except on legacy standard definition receivers, where the SD version will continue on 102.

To accommodate BBC Two Wales HD from 29th November 2018 and BBC Scotland HD from February 2019, the BBC is to make some changes to the way it broadcasts its HD services via satellite. Most users will not notice any changes.

In his announcement today, the BBC's Kieran Clifton explained that there will be a change to the 'Forward Error Correction' or FEC, which will increase the capacity available to broadcast additional services.

By making this change, it will follow ITV's lead - the commercial broadcaster uses a FEC of 3/4 and is able to accomodate six HD channels per transponder.

The BBC's HD transponders currently use a FEC of 2/3 and carry four channels per transponder. The BBC will follow ITV in switching to 3/4.

It will be possible to receive the new BBC Two Wales HD channel outside of Wales via satellite once it launches.

BBC Satellite services - manual tuning

Receiver issues
Sky and most Freesat receivers should be unaffected by the change, however, ITV's experience of changing the Forward Error Correction has uncovered a number of older Panasonic devices that were not able to handle the changes. The issue is understood to be hardware related and cannot be fixed by a software upgrade. The BBC is advising affected Panasonic users to speak to Panasonic support.

Digital Terrestrial TV - Freeview, YouView*
BBC Two Wales HD and BBC Two Northern Ireland HD will replace the current England version of BBC Two HD on channel 102 in Wales and Northern Ireland. The SD version continues on channel 2 as normal.

Cable - Virgin Media
Availability on Virgin Media is yet to be confirmed.

Online - iPlayer
The HD variants of BBC Two in Wales and Northern Ireland will be available nationwide via the BBC iPlayer.

*YouView includes BT, TalkTalk and Plusnet TV users. Separately, EE TV and Now TV Smart Box users will also be able to access the HD service in Wales/NI, subject to local coverage.

Updated 16/10/2018 16:57 and 18:06 following confirmation of the revised satellite parameters that the BBC will apply. It has been confirmed that the initial parameters published by the BBC contained an error.