ITV HD confirmed as Freesat exclusive

We are a little late reporting this, but further to our previous blog, it has been confirmed that ITV HD will be on the Freesat platform only.

The specific section in question, which confirms this news is:

What equipment do I need to receive ITV HD service?
ITV HD is only available through freesat, so you’ll need a satellite dish and either a TV with freesat HD built in (available soon), or a freesat HD digital box connected to an HD Ready TV. You’ll need to connect your HD digital box to your HD Ready TV with an HDMI cable (these cost from about £5).

ITV HD on Freesat only?

ITV HD Freesat LogoThere is speculation mounting today that ITV’s new HD (high definition) channel will be exclusive to the Freesat platform.

Test transmissions for ITV HD are now being broadcast on Eurobird 1 (11.428 GHz – H – 27/5) and service ID 10510. However, the stream is not viewable on Sky Digiboxes, nor generic FTA receivers, as the video stream is being broadcast as H.222 data rather than using the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec commonly supported by such receivers and used by existing high definition channels such as BBC HD.

As it stands, indications show on the Freesat receiver that the ITV HD channel will be accessed through the Interactive service from the SD ITV channel. This would certainly help confirm the above, but as a date for launch of the ITV HD channel has not been announced, anything could change.

The question stands, would ITV really consider restricting access from all Sky and generic receivers to make this a Freesat exclusive? Sky currently have 500,000 HD subscribers, with many more expected in the future with reductions in prices expected in June. There is also an estimated similar figure of non-subscription HD viewers, accessing via various receivers all available free HD channels.

Could we see BBC HD going the same way? It has been suggested in the past.

Freesat EPG Listings

Whilst we are still 1 week away from launch and things are likely to change, we can confirm that the existing EPG listings is as follows (thanks to Andy H for these):

101 BBC 1
102 BBC 2
103 ITV1
104 Channel 4
106 BBC Three
107 BBC Four
108 BBC HD
113 ITV2
115 ITV3
116 ITV3+1
117 ITV4
120 S4C Digidol
122 E4 (presently encypted)
124 More4 (presently encrypted)
135 Zone Romantica
138 Zone Thriller
200 BBC News
201 BBC Parliament
202 S4C2
203 Al Jazeera Eng
204 Euronews
300 FilmFour
302 True Movies
303 True Movies 2
304 Movies4Men
306 Movies4Men2
402 Wedding TV
411 O’seasproperty
450 Men and Motors
500 Chart Show TV
501 The Vault
502 Scuzz
503 Bubble Hits
504 B4U Music
600 CBBC Channel
601 CBeebies
602 CITV
603 POP
604 POPGirl
605 Tiny POP
650 Teachers TV
700 BBC Radio 1
701 1Xtra BBC
702 BBC Radio 2
703 BBC Radio 3
704 BBC Radio 4 FM
705 BBC Redio 4 LW
706 BBC R 5 Live
707 BBCR5LiveSport
708 BBCR 6 Music
709 BBC 7
710 BBC Asian Net
711 BBC World Sv
712 BBC R Scotland
713 BBC RnGaidheal
714 BBC R Wales
715 BBC R Cymru
716 BBC R Ulster
718 BBC London94.9
800 QVC
801 price-drop tv
802 bid tv
803 Pitch TV
810 JML Lifestyle
951 BBC 1 Cl
954 BBC 1 East (W)
957 BBC 1 NI
960 BBC 1 Scotland
964 BBC 1 Wales
969 BBC 2 NI
970 BBC 2 Scotland
971 BBC 2 W

Channel 4 from the off!

Not quite an official annoucement but its beleived that Channel 4 will be available on the freesat platform (FTA) from launch.

Originally we beleived that Channel 4 would have to wait until their existing contract with Sky ends in October, but it seems that they might have found a solution to this (no idea how!).

According to avid satellite programming fans, Channel 4 has appeared on the Astra2D satellite beam, which is a great indicator of almost being ready to launch, and the timing would seem highly coincidental with the freesat launch. Astra2D by the way is the beam used for FTA channels such as BBC and ITV.

We don’t have confirmed reports on whether the rest of the Channel 4 channels (E4, More4 etc) will be available too, as their present contract with Sky is for subscription availability, not FTV like Channel 4. It is beleived though that slots for these channels are appearing on the Astra2D beam also.

No news on Five as yet, although its suggested that they are pushing for launch too. Great news.

BBC / ITV region determined by POSTCODE input

Where as the BBC and ITV region on the Sky platform is determined by the registered address of the viewing card, and not that easy to change, the freesat platform will see the receivers request a postcode on the initial setup, allowing you to choose your own region as the default, or alternatively a prefered region. By default we mean that your region of BBC will be in position 1 (101) and your chosen ITV region in position 3 (103). Naturally you will be able to change the region again at any time by simply carrying out the initial setup again.

For those that wish to have access to more than one region at a time, an option to include them as an ‘additional channel’ will be available.

For a platform where by the receivers have no viewing card slots, this seems the most logical setup, and much prefered for those that don’t like their home’s default region, or possibility even for those considering ‘unofficial’ use outside of the UK.

When will C4 and Five sign up?

As freesat is a joint-venture between BBC and ITV, naturally it means that their channels will be available on the new service, but what about C4 and Five? Despite what some think, there’s no such rivalry between the networks to prevent them signing up, nothing of the sort, the reason is that they are both presently tied into individual agreements with Sky, as the only available provider of their service via satellite television.

So will C4 and Five be available from launch? It doesn’t seem likely! Our sources tell us that the existing C4 contract, which includes C4, C4+1, C4 HD, E4, E4+1, More4 and More4+1 means they are tied up in contract until Autumn this year. Five, Five Life, Five US and the pending Five HD are in agreement with Sky until early 2009.

So what affect would that have on freesats launch? I’m still questioning whether the freesat launch will happen before atleast C4 get out of their contract! C4 have hinted at leaving the contract early, but can you imagine the implications of this, plus the cost to breach agreement that keeps Sky firmly in control of the satellite market. I can’t see freesat taking off with only 3 of the power 5 channels, can you?