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About Freeview channel changes

From time-to-time there are updates to Freeview's channel line-up.

Broadcasters are constantly adding, changing or removing one service or another on Freeview: here's what you need to know:

When should I retune?
Scheduled additions and changes usually take place between 10:30am and 1pm. Channel removals often take place during these hours, but scheduled cessation of services have been observed as late as 2pm.

Broadcasters affected by any change are usually advised to tell viewers that they can retune Freeview after 2pm, this allows a little overspill time in the event there's an issue.

If a Freeview carriage agreement specifies a service is due to start at an early hour, e.g at 0:01 on the 1st of a month, a placeholder will be added to Freeview ahead of the channel's launch, so that viewers can tune in and add the channel in advance. This doesn't happen very often.

Did you know? 
Broadcast engineers will avoid major news and sporting events when making changes to Freeview. This includes events like the World Cup or the Budget. There's also no changes over Christmas, New Year or other main holidays. The vast majority of changes take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays, and never on a Saturday or Sunday.

Big changes
Every 3 years, there is normally a major reshuffle when a number of changes are made at the same time, and gaps in the channel list are filled. The last such event took place in August 2017, although since then there have been some big changes in the channel 60-96 range.

Redirect messages
When services move channel number or frequency, a slate containing a brief message for viewers is normally configured on the old slot advising what needs to be done and redirecting (where applicable), to the new slot. After a retune, these messages often end up being moved to channel 790-799, with the service reappearing in its new slot.

Users of the latest Freeview equipment may find that their receiver has automatically made the necessary changes, without any intervention, although they won't handle major frequency changes automatically.

Frequency changes
In the event of frequency changes affecting a whole multiplex of services, these changes are usually timed to take place overnight. During the morning, services are restored, first at main transmitters and then at any relay site. Pop-up messages will often appear in advance of any major change, with further information obtainable from

And if you don't retune?
If you don't have a device that automatically retunes, you won't receive all newly added channels. Channels that have changed number may still appear on their old number. As a result new channels that have been assigned a channel number that was previously used by someone else will not appear in the correct place, if at all.

Old Freeview boxes may need to go through a factory reset or first time installation process to clear the old channel list before storing the current channel line-up.

Is there advance warning of changes?
In the event of major changes, information for viewers will be published on the Freeview website. Affected broadcasters may also provide adverts about the impending change. The Freeview Information channel (ch.100) will also report major changes.

For less significant changes, there is great variation. Some broadcasters will make efforts to alert their viewers of a change, either via an on-screen message or social media/internet site postings. But some broadcasters do make unannounced changes, or embargo information about the change until the change has been completed.

Published: November 2017