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Jan 10 2009

It seems that Channel 4’s contract with Sky is the worlds best kept secret, no matter how much we try, we cannot get an indication from anywhere as to what the detail of that contract might be.

At present C4’s high-definition service is encrypted, requiring a Sky+HD Digibox and viewing card to view, even though it’s not a subscription channel.

We are constantly pushing Freesat, Channel 4 and Sky for an answer, but the closest we’ve got so far has definitely got to be our last two responses from Channel 4. We were told by email;

The HD Channel 4 service is currently not avaiable on Freesat, but we hope this will be added in the coming months.

We then responded to ask whether they could give anymore indication than that, which was responded to with;

We have no further information as to when Channel 4 HD will be avalable via Freesat, but hopefully it will be available at some point this year.

This is by far the best information we’ve had so far from them, helped no doubt by our mention of the current poll running which has you voting 51% in favour of C4HD being the most wanted service next from Freesat.

We’ll continue to chase…

56 Responses to “C4 HD This Year?”

  1. Lee B Says:

    Fantastic news, can’t wait, the Channel 4HD mix of upscaled and HD in a dedicated channel is the way forward, rather than the ITV odd program. I’m sure this will mean even more Freesat box purchases.

    Looking forward to seeing some Alba PVR’s now, as more competition should mean prices coming down and make freesat PVRs more available.

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  2. Tron Says:

    No its 2010

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  3. admin Says:

    Any further information to back that up please? We had initially a suspicion from speaking to a member of the Sky management team that their contract was until December 09 so an early 2010 was realistic, but this doesn’t match up with what they are now saying!

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  4. Chris Says:

    CH4 HD need to pull their sock up if they want to keep their advertisers happy. I for one have not watched one minute of CH4 since changing my viewing box from a $ky + HD receiver to the Humax FreeSat PVR a week before Christmas.

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  5. photosinferno Says:

    Well I for one would be ‘pushed’ more towards purchasing a freesat PVR if C4HD was available, and I know I could I swing it with the other half – with the promise of BB in HD LOL

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  6. Oyodi Says:

    As Chris says earlier, I too have hardly watched Ch4 since having swooped from $ky to Freesat, So I look forward to Ch4 HD with great anticipation, I know some people say its the content of programs that count, but to me now, if its not in HD, then I don’t bother watching.

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  7. derek500 Says:

    For those who have changed from SkyHD to Freesat, why don’t you keep your old Sky box and you will still get 4HD without a sub.

    Oyodi: “If it’s not in HD, then I don’t bother watching”.

    You can’t be watching a lot of TV, now you have Freesat!!!

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  8. Darren Speck Says:

    Excellent news, lets hope this is the year for freesat and we get more channels added. I for one want 4HD, Five US, fiver. There are also some decent channels in none freesat mode that would be good if they switched over to the EPG.

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  9. AndrewM Says:

    @photosinferno: It’s very unlikely that they’ll be producing Big Brother in HD any time soon (and the currently airing Celebrity Big Brother is not being aired in HD). Remember that there are loads and loads of those special cameras inside the house that would be very expensive to upgrade to HD, if it was even practical at all to upgrade them.

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  10. Al Catraz Says:

    Just because it says HD on the label, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s HD you watch on C4HD – much of it is actually just SD upscaled ($KYxHD does the same) – so it’s better than SD, but not full HD. ;-)

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  11. Steven Says:

    Is upscaled SD actually better than real SD? I suspect the upscaled version is actually the ‘real full bandwidth version’ of the original SD recording. Therefore full bandwidth SD pictures will look the same regardless of being upscaled or not.

    Upscaling won’t improve the quality. The broadcasters have been slowly cranking down the SD bandwidth hoping we won’t notice. Unfortunately the ITV family of channels and others now have the bandwidth of the American NTSC system developed in 1953 and they look soft . . That’s progress . .

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  12. Al (Original) Says:

    @ Steven, not necessarily it just depends on how well the upsacling software performs the upscale. The software is basically guessing what colour the missing pixels should be based on the information it already has. Sometimes its good, sometimes its not. As a rule, upscaled material often looks a little softer than native SD.

    That said, some DVD players make an excellent job.

    That said, DVD is a much higher bit rate and thus better quality signal to start with. With transmitted data, the quality of the staring information is much inferior due to the higher compression so as a result you can expect the upscaled material to be of lower quality as well.

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  13. photosinferno Says:

    @AndrewM, Good point would be a tad diffficult to upgrade the program to HD. Just be nice to have C4HD on freesat, think it would bring a few more people to the ‘freesat’ party.

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  14. The Duke Of Hunslet Says:

    Someone on a previous post mentioned getting C4 HD on a Freesat PVR box in conjunction with the common interface adaptor.

    Given that C4 should be free, is it possible to obtain a viewing card from C4 (like you used to be able to get for BBC channels before Freesat was born) and then update the box manually…?

    Just a thought…

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  15. Andy Says:

    You could get a Freesat From Sky card for £20 from Sky, then buy a CAM for around £80. That would give you access to Ch 4 HD on the Humax Freesat PVR.

    However, you’d only be able to access in non-freesat mode, so would be a complete pain if you wanted to record anything for example.

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  16. The Duke Of Hunslet Says:

    Cheers Andy@15.

    Does it seam odd that although it is possible to view C4HD on a freesat box the powers that be can’t fix it so that it works without having to be an expert on such things.

    I’ve got a TV Licence Fee demand in front of me. Since C4 and Freesat get some of it you would think they would fix this without lawyers standing in the middle of them and $KY.

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  17. Dave Says:

    Well ive just bought freesat and i agree although we have bbcHD which is mainly preview clips, and the odd itv HD programme, i think ch4HD would be great, as i’m a big brother and deal or no deal fan.. lol. I also found Luxe HD channel in manual tune mode. Finally has anyone noticed any lip syncing problems on bbcHD where the sound is slightly out of time with the picture?

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  18. AndrewM Says:

    @The Duke Of Hunslet: Actually C4 don’t see a penny of the licence fee. There are proposals for “top-slicing” the licence fee in the future, these are being developed as part of Ofcom’s PSB review, but at the moment they get no money from the licence fee, it all goes to the BBC. Freesat does get a very tiny percentage of the licence fee, probably less than 0.1%, given that it is a joint company owned by the BBC and ITV.

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  19. Ronnie Says:

    BB and DoND are not in HD yet.

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  20. Tom Says:

    Who wants to see Noel in Hd anyway! ;)

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  21. Dave Says:

    I’d like to see Noel in HD lol, i’m surprised they not filming it in HD yet. Did someone say the cameras in the big brother house are not HD cameras as thats a big dissapointment from c4HD.

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  22. Dave Says:

    I’d like to see Noel in HD lol, i’m surprised they not filming it in HD yet. Did someone say the cameras in the big brother house are not HD cameras as that would be a big dissapointment from c4HD.

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  23. derek500 Says:

    “I’d like to see Noel in HD lol, i’m surprised they not filming it in HD yet. Did someone say the cameras in the big brother house are not HD cameras as that would be a big dissapointment from c4HD.”

    All three of Noel’s Sky1 shows are in HD. I don’t suppose you’re that desperate though!!

    It took Endemol years to upgrade BB to 16:9, I don’t suppose they’ll be in a hurry to upgrade again.

    However, upscaled SD on C4 HD is excellent. You’ll never watch 104 again.

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  24. Dave Says:

    Well i’ll look forward to viewing c4hd when it arrives on freesat this year. I would have thought they would of had HD cameras in the BB house by now thou as its the biggest show on ch4, mind you they can only feed the housemates basic rashens at the moment lol.

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  25. Denis Says:

    Thats got to be very positive news.

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  26. Dave Says:

    What are the chances of coronation street going onto itvHD this year?

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  27. Tron Says:

    Have been to enough meetings where its been shared that the contract lasts through till 2010 sometime. Don’t know when in 2010 so I won’t hazard a guess as to when exactly

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  28. derek500 Says:

    “What are the chances of coronation street going onto itvHD this year?”

    None. Emmerdale has been made with HD cameras for a year now, but it’s not expected to be broadcast in HD, until the post-production facilities have been upgraded. Expected in 2011.

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  29. derek500 Says:

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  30. Dave Says:

    Cant believe we have to wait until 2011 for corrie & and emmerdale to be in HD, thats about 3 years! Ive noticed theres no eastenders on the bbcHD channel either. I guess there will be an ITV HD channel soon, so we can watch the soaps with upscaled quality at least.

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  31. john moon Says:

    well i have channel four hd and i dont pay for a sky hd package or a virgin media package hers what you need
    1 humax hd 2000 ci box you can buy cheeper boxes as long as it has a ci slot
    2 a diablo cam
    3 basic subsrition to sky £18.00 a month (this just family package not hd)
    4 you insert your diablo cam into your humax box
    5 you insert your sky veiwing card into the diablo cam
    5 hey presto channelfor hd comes on without have to pay sky £ 10 a month extra
    6 you will need a cas 3 programmer to update the firmware on a diablo cam from time time to time .
    but who cares

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  32. admin Says:

    John, you don’t need a subscription to Sky at all for C4HD, you just need one of Sky’s FTV cards which cost £20 from http://www.freesatfromsky.com. Obviously though as you’ve said, if you don’t have a Sky Digibox then you’d need a Dragon/Diablo CAM and appropriate receiver.

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  33. john D Says:

    It would be great to view Time Team in C4HD,i do hope this is going to happen
    this year.

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  34. Dave Says:

    Thanks for the info on getting c4HD but i have no slot in my humax box, and its still going to cost a monthly subscription even if i did have one, the reason why i bought freesat is to avoid monthly payments, so i’ll just wait until it ends up on freesat. It also sounds to me that chHD is just an SD upscaled channel and not full HD as most programmes like big brother & deal or no deal are not shot in HD. Am i right?

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  35. Dave Says:

    Could someone answer that question for me? Is Ch4HD a full HD channel or just an upscaled SD channel?

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  36. admin Says:

    Dave, it’s simulcast. It has a mix of upscaled SD content from C4, plus some HD content.

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  37. Dave Says:

    Thanks for that, you can tell HD is a new thing to me lol.

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  38. YASAR Says:

    OK WE HAVE 140 CHANNELS (SOME SPAM, SOME +1 AND A LOT OF RADIO) SO FAR.
    IS THAT IT?
    NO MORE CHANNELS? WHAT HAPPENED TO “OVER 200 CHANNELS BY END OF 2008 AND MORE HD CONTENT” ?
    I FOR ONE WOULD LIKE TO SEE VIRGIN 1 , 5US AND FIVER. ALSO CH4HD
    I HEAR THAT FREEVIEW WILL BE BROADCASTING 5 HD CHANNELS BY 2012. MOST OF THEM WILL BE AVAILABLE THIS YEAR.
    ANY COMMENTS ON THAT???

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  39. admin Says:

    You cannot compare Freeview and Freesat, given that the main reason for the launch of Freesat was to supply digital television and radio to those that cannot receive by other means.

    200 channels by the end of 2008 was an initial indication, but changed a few months later to 150, which they almost managed.

    Freesat are doing all they can to get channels on board, but if existing FTA channels don’t wish to ‘buy in’, or are suffering because of the current economic climate, then that’s out of Freesat’s control.

    Likewise with 5US and Fiver, it’s the broadcaster themselves that are struggling to get those channels on the 2D beam required. Similar issue with C4HD, apart from it’s their contract with Sky holding them up (they have space ready on 2D).

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  40. YASAR Says:

    COME ON ADMIN , A LOT OF PEOPLE BOUGHT IN TO FREESAT BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO RECEIVE HD CHANNELS AND THE PROMISE THAT THERE WOULD BE A LOT MORE CHANNELS AVAILABLE THAN FREESAT.
    I AM ONE OF THEM. SO IS MY NEIGHBOUR WHO BOUGHT IT BECAUSE I SOLD HIM THE IDEA.
    I STILL HAVE MY FREEVIEW AND WATCH THAT AS MY DEFAULT SINCE THE PICTURE QUALITY IS MUCH BETTER ON SD. BUT FOR HD (EVEN THOUGH IT IS SOMEWHAT LIMITED) I AM WATCHING FREESAT.
    OK THERE IS A LOT OF CHOICE OF FILM CHANNELS ON FREESAT BUT AS THEY ARE ALL IN 4:3 I TEND NOT TO WATCH THEM AT ALL. WHY NOT BROADCAST THEM IN 16:9? AFTER ALL PROBABLY THEY ARE FILMS MADE IN 2.35:1 . ALSO WHY ARE THEY IN SUCH LOW QUALITY.

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  41. admin Says:

    Yasar, CAPITALS are a sign of shouting on the web ;)

    I agree with you that the main selling point of Freesat was HD content as well as a totally free satellite service with no thrills/complications.

    Unfortunately though whilst Freesat (and us, and everyone else) can push for more content, ultimately it’s down to the broadcasters to produce and display this content to us, so far only BBC are doing a good job of this.

    Same with films, it’s up to the broadcasters to present in the most appropriate format, annoying 4:3 seems common. The platform has the capabilities of 16:9 etc, it’s the broadcasters that need to use it.

    Improvements will continue to be made, but it will take time, we just need to keep leaning on the broadcasters for more bang for our buck!

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  42. digital Says:

    @ yasar
    Any chance you could tap the Caps Lock key and turn off the capitals? Text all in capitals is really difficult to read and is also seen as bad manners/shouting…

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  43. YASAR Says:

    I am sorry if I offended anybody because of Caps. Did not know it meant shouting.But I find I have to struggle to read if not in caps. Bad eye sight/old age!

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  44. Mike Says:

    I must say all the talk about freesat having more channels and those arguing it is not in competition for viewers – well once Freeview has HD channels (the only benefit to Freesat at the moment), then Freesat will be the poor relation unless it bucks up its ideas and obtains more quality channels.

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  45. C4HD Is Your Top Priority » Join Freesat Says:
  46. Jon Says:

    I’ve contacted C4 about their HD channel on Freesat, the more that enquire the better the chance. I await their reply.

    I agree, Freesat needs more HD and more channels, but especially HD. Freeview HD will make it redundant otherwise.

    People have been sold HD TVs and it’s only reasonable to expect some HD content for them. Also, what’s with the missing channels that are on freeview only, surely they could come to some arrangement. I mean it’s just silly and puts people off.

    It seems Sky are ruining everything with their monopoly, where are Offcom! They have way too much power. Damn you Murdoch.

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  47. admin Says:

    …where are Ofcom!

    In Sky’s back pocket :D ;)

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  48. rjay Says:

    According to the BBC website HD will not come to Freeview until the DSO has finished at least (2012) because of the space required, and then it will be region spacific at first. I would imagion that any channel that will transmit in HD on Freeview in the future will also transmit on Freesat as well, and as Freesat has the capibility to transmit in HD now then I would guess these channels will be on Freesat in HD before Freeview. I personally got Freesat because I got so fed up with the time sharing on Freeview. Although its a pain at least on Freesat I can switch my Humax into non Freesat and watch CNN any time of the day I wish to view it.

    To the person who said about using a Diablo or Dragon cam and Sky card, dont you need to put the Sky card in to a Sky box every 4 – 6 weeks to update it? If so then you also need a Sky box to do that.

    Like everyone else I would like to see more content on Freesat, Those that are on Freeview and more HD content and I guess it will come in time. At least Freesat is growing in content faster then Freeview has.

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  49. towny Says:

    @Mike 44 … I guess you don’t know any of the detail of what Ofcom is proposing in order to allow Freeview to broadcast an HD service then. Put simply, there is not enough space on Freeview for adequate HD, and Ofcom in its wisdom is determined so sell off the analogue broadcast spectrum for other uses to the highest bidder, so there never will be enough space. They plan to squeeze the existing Freeview channels into less bandwidth and rely on more up-to-date compression techniques to make up the shortfall. Then they will introduce HD broadcasts into the mix, but at a derisory bitrate of just 8.4Mbps (about half of what they use for Freesat and Sky broadcasts).

    On these proposals, there will only ever be room for 2 or 3 HD channels on Freeview, whereas Freesat enjoys vastly more bandwidth. Freesat is never going to be the poor relation to Freeview. In fact, once HD TVs are the norm in British homes, and their owners start looking at how to get the best use out of them, it’s Freeview that’s going to be looking jaded and out-of-date. I forsee a day in the not too distant future when a dish is the standard means of receiving free TV broadcasts in the UK.

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  50. rjay Says:

    @towny. Exacly, there will never be enough space on Freeview for much HD content. I have been under the impression for a long time now that the majority of the space that will be created by the analogue switch off has already been sold to mobile phone companys. There is no free space now on Freeview hence the continuation of compressing the signal more and more, soon there will be nothing left to compress.

    For those who insist they get a better SD picture on Freeview then on Freesat, surely there must be something wrong with your set up. The high compression on Freesat will cause a softer picture then on Freesat so maybe your tv needs calibrating on your Freesat input (the HDMI or Scart your Freesat box is pluged into). as it may be set to give a too sharp / strong picture, if it is a LCD or Plasma and is set to the default settings this is mnost probably the case.

    If I compare the picture quality of the channels on Freesat that are also on Freeview the quality is better on Freesat, with may some of the ITV xhannels being an excepton to the rule.

    Freesat has more protential then Freeview so I can not see it being the poor relation.

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  51. rjay Says:

    with may some of the ITV xhannels being an excepton to the rule.

    Sorry: With some of the ITV channels being an exception to the rule.

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  52. towny Says:

    The picture quality issue is another matter entirely. On Freeview, pictures are compressed because there’s not enough bandwidth available to provide both quantity and quality, and the broadcast TV industry at the moment is bent on pursuit of the former. Freesat, on the other hand, demands a different compromise, one between quantity and cost. There’s space to be found on the satellites for those that want it badly enough, but some broadcasters are not prepared to pay what it would cost to beam their channels from them at the higher bitrates we would all like to see.

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  53. bigboss Says:

    YASAR Says:

    January 23rd, 2009 at 5:09 pm
    I am sorry if I offended anybody because of Caps. Did not know it meant shouting.But I find I have to struggle to read if not in caps. Bad eye sight/old age!
    If eyesight is that bad you have to use caps to type on pc, can you really see any benefit watching HD TV?

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  54. Alex Smith Says:

    WE WANT C4HD, also very happy that I now have ITVHD as a constant channel on FreesatHD!!!! More HD pleeeeaaaaassssseeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  55. Gary Smith Says:

    Good points raised by all. Is there not enough evidence to have Ofcom and SKY investigated by the Monopolies Commission or OFT?

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  56. conor mcdermott Says:

    As soon as channel 4 hd is on freeview they also should be put on to freesat no mater what c4 hd is on freeview and channel has to be told to put it on freesat at the same time and sky told were to go c4 should be big enough to stand on its on feet and not rely on sky for money plus they say that they are independant from sky so come on c4 make it so And I think sky should be investigated by monopolies commision or oft and ofcom asweel

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