The UK’s 18.2 million households with Freeview reception equipment will be required to retune their receivers this Wednesday lunchtime if they wish to continue receiving the full channel package.
The move has been necessary as part of the clearance of the so-called Multiplex B, run by the BBC, to make way for the new high definition services that will commence their rollout in the North West on December 1. At the same time Five, which has been using capacity in Multiplex A, will also move to Mux 2 owned by ITV and Channel 4’s D3 and 4 venture.
An estimated 500,000 homes will be able to receive Five for the first time. However, an estimated 400,000 viewers that receive their digital signals via a relay station will lose access to ITV3 and ITV4, which will move to Multiplexes A and B respectively. The relay transmitter network has historically broadcast Multiplexes 1 and 2 and Multiplex A.
Viewers will already be familiar with the need to periodically retune their DTT receivers – many of the latest models do this automatically – but this is the first time since the demise of ITV Digital in 2002 and the subsequent launch of Freeview that a wholesale retuning exercise has been necessary.
While some viewers will not see the benefits of HD until digital switchover in their region – it is anticipated that 50% of homes will be covered by the time of the World Cup next June and 60% by the end of 2010 – they will at least be able to receive the new Discovery launch Quest that goes live at noon today (September 30).
In the past few weeks Freeview viewers have seen an MHEG-5 generated caption advising them of the impending changes.
Freeview has launched a dedicated website at www.tvretune.co.uk and an automated TV Retune Helpline on 08456 05 11 22.