FREEVIEW users should have retuned their sets earlier this week, but information on what it was all about has been scant.
Freeview signals are split between six different multiplexors, each of which transmits a range of channels. Some channels were moved between multiplexes on September 30. Also, a new station called Quest was included on Channel 38 and the Community Channel was removed.
Not all multiplexes have the same signal strength and reception area. So, Channel Five was ‘promoted’ and became available to some viewers who could not receive it before. But ITV3 and ITV4 were ‘relegated’ and lost to some viewers. Viewers who cannot receive all Freeview channels today will have to wait until two years’ time, when digital switchover is completed in this area on September 30, 2011. The big development, it seems, is that room has been made for High Definition (HD), which Freeview will be broadcasting for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five.
HD broadcasts begin on December 2 on Merseyside, but the current plan for our area is a launch ‘in time for the football World Cup in June 2010’.
Footie fans with Freeview may want to start planning ahead for HD. It will come as a blow to many viewers, though, that an HD Ready television set will not be enough.
These HD transmissions will use a new standard, known as DVB-T2, which stands for ‘Digital Video Broadcasting – Second Generation Terrestrial’. An additional ‘set-top box’ capable of handling these signals will be needed. However, as yet, suitable devices have not been launched so how expensive they will be is uncertain.