Channel 4 HD Finally Arrives On Freesat

C4HD Finally Arrives On Freesat

Channel 4 and Freesat today announced that C4HD has launched on the subscription-free satellite TV service. C4HD becomes the fourth HD channel on Freesat joining BBC ONE HD, BBC HD and ITV1 HD.

C4HD will be available from today on channel 126 following an automatic update on your Freesat receiver or television with built-in Freesat.

Freesat also confirmed last month that NHK World HD will be launching in May, bringing the total number of HD channels on Freesat to five.

Freesat currently offers over 150 TV, radio and interactive channels to its 1.6 million customer sales, alongside BBC iPlayer, with ITV Player imminent.

(Updated) C4HD Expected To Launch On 1st April

Channel 4 HD

(Update – please be aware that the schedule slipped due to contractual issues between Channel 4 and Sky, so the 1st April release has been changed for later this month; as soon as we have official confirmation, we’ll let you know).

No, this isn’t an April Fools, C4HD is expected to launch on Freesat on the 1st April 2011. This date isn’t officially confirmed, but comes from a very reliable source.

If you cannot wait that long, the channel should be broadcasting ‘in the clear’ (FTA) from 10th March so you can scan non-Freesat mode to access it (as some were doing last week). Continue reading (Updated) C4HD Expected To Launch On 1st April

C4HD To Launch On Freesat

Channel 4 and Freesat today announced that Freesat HD viewers will soon be able to enjoy C4HD when the channel launches on the subscription free satellite TV service in April.

C4HD becomes the fourth HD channel on Freesat joining BBC1 HD, BBC HD and ITV1 HD. Freesat currently offers over 170 TV, radio and interactive channels to its 1.5 million customers, alongside BBC iPlayer, with ITV Player imminent (for most). Continue reading C4HD To Launch On Freesat

Poll: Which HD Channel Would You Like On Freesat Next?

We have launched a new poll on the left hand side of the page asking which HD channel you would like to see on Freesat next.

The key thing here is that we’ve picked channels that are most likely to join Freesat in the future; from the main stream UK broadcasters.

We know Channel 4 are in discussions with Freesat into bringing C4HD to the platform soon, but is this the HD channel you’d most like to see?

Don’t forget to vote, and by all means leave comments specific to this post below.

C4HD Satellite Capacity Delays Launch

Speaking with Channel 4 today, we have found out that C4HD is free of its original contract with Sky but lack of space on the appropriate satellite beam is the cause for the high-definition service not being available on the Freesat platform at this time.

As a UK broadcaster, restrictions mean that Channel 4, along with BBC, ITV and Five can only offer their channels in-the-clear if they are broadcast from the tighter 2D beam on the Astra2 satellite; either that or by means of restricted access such as ITV HD.

The high def simulcast is currently available to subscribers of Sky HD and Virgin Media HD, but will also be made available on other platforms including Freesat in future; unfortunately, there is no satellite capacity for our HD channel on Freesat at present.

Unfortunately the 2D beam transponders are already full, with some broadcasters such as BBC reducing the quality of their HD offering in the hope of gaining more space for potential future channels and services. Channel 4 currently lease two of the transponders but are already at full capacity using them for their range of channels already FTA (free-to-air), such as Channel 4, E4, More4, Film4 plus the 1 hour time-shifts and regional variants.

Unless more space can be made available, or channels are moved around, it will be extremely difficult for C4HD, as well as Fiver and Five US to launch FTA on the Freesat platform. The channels currently filling the 2D beam include the following, no surprises that Sky have encrypted/subscription channels taking up valuable space, but they lease it, so are entitled to it:

At The Races (encrypted)
BBC 1 (all regions)
Channel 4 (all regions)
Channel 4 +1 (all regions)
Channel TV
Current TV
Disney Channel (encrypted)
Disney Channel +1 (encrypted)
Disney Cinemagic (encrypted)
Disney Cinemagic +1 (encrypted)
E4 +1
Film 4
Film 4 +1
FX UK +2 (encrypted)
ITV 1 (all regions)
ITV 2 +1
ITV 3 +1
ITV 4 +1
Men & Motors
More 4
More 4 +1
NDTV 24×7
Playhouse Disney (encrypted)
Playhouse Disney +1 (encrypted)
RTE One (encrypted)
RTE Two (encrypted)
Scottish TV (all regions)
Sky Box Office
Sky Real Lives (encrypted)
Sky Real Lives +1 (encrypted)
Sky Real Lives 2 (encrypted)
Sky Sports 2 (pubs – commercial) (encrypted)
Sky Sports Active
Sky Travel Shop (encrypted)
Sky Travel Shop (encrypted)
TG4 (encrypted)
TV3 (encrypted)
Ulster TV

Channel 4 are working to resolve this matter, and have been carrying out tests over the past few weeks since we believe their contract with Sky ended in July 2009. Lets hope that something can be sorted and C4HD can be fairly distributed across all platforms, especially given they are a UK public broadcaster.

Update (24th August 2009)

Official response from Freesat:

Although capacity on the Astra2D satellite is currently in short supply, the situation can change. Other capacity is available although it may not be suitable for some broadcasters depending on the rights they hold with content owners.

Freesat continues to talk with broadcasters about bringing HD content onto the platform and is confident of being able to offer more HD in the future.

C4 HD Joins Virgin Media Line-up

Channel 4 HD

With today’s announcement that C4 HD will launch on the Virgin Media cable platform in the next few weeks; questions are being asked of whether Channel 4’s high-definition service will also be available on Freesat.

We are trying to find this out, but from what we understood from previously conversations with Channel 4; the contract with Sky ensured an exclusive agreement on the satellite platform, but not others such as cable and terrestrial aerial. If this is the case, then we have a while longer to wait yet; but if not, we could indeed see C4HD making an appearance on Freesat very soon.

As we find out more information, we’ll be sure to update you.

Freesat Responses To Recent FAQ

We were recently given the opportunity to present questions to Freesat on those topics we felt were of most interest to you; it was a little bit of rush to send them in so didn’t have the opportunity this time to ask what you wanted to know, but from reading through comments, we came up with the questions below which Freesat have kindly answers. No ground breaking responses unfortunately, especially on those questions related to the broadcasters as we’d need to hear from them directly; but worth a read anyway.

We had requested this FAQ session from noticing the change in viewers perceptive on what they now required from Freesat one year on; more HD content being top of most viewer’s wish lists, as well as increased product lines with new exciting products. We made the point to Freesat that the next year will be even more important than the first, not only in obtaining new customers but retaining existing ones too; we are sure they’ll be doing all they can to make Freesat even better, but don’t forget they are actively visiting this site so by all means leave your comments.

ITV HD had been promoted as “exclusive to Freesat” to help encourage uptake; what are Freesat’s thoughts on Sky now having access to ITV HD via the new EPG software? Have ITV HD decided upon a more open policy or should this not have been made possible? What are the potential impacts on Freesat uptake?

ITV HD remains an exclusive red button service on freesat. It is not listed on any Sky EPG and is only available to a small number of boxes via a complicated manual tune / scan.

HD sales have been a large percentage of all Freesat sales (approx. 80%). Could the reason for this as well as the obvious be that SD boxes have been so hard to obtain from Alba Group? Have Freesat been made aware of such lack of availability and are you doing anything to assist?

HD receivers have made up the majority of freesat sales from day one. We work closely with both manufacturers and retailers to try and ensure sufficient stock of all Freesat approved products is readily available. We are aware that recent demand for SD boxes has been high, particularly in some rural areas and those places to receive Freeview. As mentioned on Join Freesat, we are confident that increased volumes of stock will help meet the demand.

Are any other manufacturers in the frame for developing Freesat products (except Sony)? What restrictions are on current manufacturers?

All freesat products go through a strict product development process that enables freesat and partner manufacturers to maintain the highest quality of freesat approved receivers. We are in regular conversation with manufacturers across the industry and plan to launch new products later this year.

What was the original target figure for sales in the first 12 months? What is the target for the next 12 months?

Our sales targets are not public but we can confirm that we exceeded first year forecasts and are on course for continuing this strong growth through 2009.

Why wasn’t 200 channels reached when originally suggested for the first year?

The economic outlook has changed significantly since the early part of 2008 and it’s a challenging market for channels, retailers and manufacturers. We’ve already grown our line-up from around 80 channels at launch a year ago to over 140 today. We’re continuing to add channels all the time and will be launching IPTV catch-up and on-demand services in the future.

Why content of HD programming remains relatively small, especially from ITV?

HD TV production and distribution still remain expensive for broadcasters. Despite this Freesat shows up to 70 hours of HD programming per week for free. BBC HD has increased its scheduled hours twice since launch and is planning to increase them further in 2009. ITV shows peaktime programming in HD most nights of the week and is increasing the amount of HD programming available this year.

What are Freesat doing to pursue the possibility of additional channels joining, especially those such as C4HD, Fiver and Five US?

Freesat works tirelessly to bring more channels onto the platform. We’re committed to growing the amount of HD programming on Freesat and are in regular contact with broadcasters including Channel 4 and Five.

C4HD Is Your Top Priority

Well it was hardly surprising, but in conclusion of our recent poll – “What would you like to see next?” which has been running a few months, a massive 50% of you (2,762 votes) want to see C4 HD as the next service/channel to reach Freesat, beating iPlayer on 19%.

It just goes to show how many Freesat viewers have purchased on the premise of high-definition channels, and with the current shortage (BBC HD, ITV HD and *Luxe HD (*non-freesat mode)) C4 HD is so desperately wanted by many; especially considering that 60% of Freesat audience have HD digital boxes, this is a significant proportion.

So how likely is C4 HD? Well nothing much has been updated since our last post, so whilst we’ll possibly see some time this year, it’s unlikely to be the next service we receive, that honour will probably go to BBC’s iPlayer.

C4HD (50%, 2,779 votes)
BBC iPlayer (19%, 1,037 votes)
Fiver and Five US (16%, 872 votes)
Panasonic PVR/Blu-Ray (8%, 446 votes)
Sub add-on’s (Setanta…) (6%, 310 votes)
Metronic HD/PVR (1%, 80 votes)

Don’t forget to take part in our new poll, “What is your opinion of ITV HD?” (left hand column).

C4 HD This Year?

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…