Panasonic Launch New Freesat TV Range

Panasonic Freesat

Following what we thought was the expected launch of iPlayer on Panasonic televisions today, it would seem that the secrecy has been over the new range of televisions launching soon, rather than anything else! 🙁

This is still good news though, especially for those with access to both Freesat and Freeview reception, as the new range shown below now include both Freesat HD and Freeview HD receivers built-in; a first in this country.

The range are as follows and will begin roll-out in March this year:

Plasma Televisions

Panasonic TX-P42G20B
Panasonic TX-P42V20B
Panasonic TX-P46G20B
Panasonic TX-P50G20B
Panasonic TX-P50V20B
Panasonic TX-P50VT20B
Panasonic TX-P65VT20B

LCD Televisions

Panasonic TX-L32G20B
Panasonic TX-L32D28BP
Panasonic TX-L32D28BW
Panasonic TX-L32D28BS
Panasonic TX-L37G20B
Panasonic TX-L37V20B
Panasonic TX-L37D25B
Panasonic TX-L37D28BS
Panasonic TX-L37W20B
Panasonic TX-L42D25B
Panasonic TX-L42W20B

BBC iPlayer Beta Testing To Begin This Month

BBC iPlayer’s long-awaited beta testing is finally expected to start this November.

According to Rahul Chakkara, Controller of TV Platforms at BBC FM&T, the MHEG-5 compliant version of the interface will begin Beta deployment “by end of November” on the Freesat platform.

I expect to start a Beta deployment by the end of November using capable Freesat devices.

As we had suspected, it seems that BBC might have been holding back to introduce the service across both the Freesat and Freeview platform at the same time, though Freesat is still expected to be the first to offer in HD.

The DTG (Digital Television Group) supported by BBC R&D, has extended the MHEG-5 standard to use the interaction channel for handling Internet video. This standard has been adopted by Freesat and incorporated into the DBook 6.1 used in Freeview HD devices. Finally now the resulting MHEG-IC service will allow both platforms to access additional AV content via the Internet. This will include BBC iPlayer of course, as well as other VoD (Video On Demand) and Catch-up TV services, plus much more in the future including real-time programme interaction.

Freesat Customers Not Affected By Retune

Freesat have released the following press statement to ensure customers do not get confused by tomorrows re-tune on Freeview.

Customers of subscription-free digital TV satellite service, Freesat, will not be affected by the Freeview retune day tomorrow, Wednesday 30 September, which Digital UK estimates will affect up to 18 million homes in the UK.

All Freeview set-top boxes and televisions will need retuning so that viewers can continue to receive all of Freeviews channels and services. However, Freesat customers won’t have to lift a finger to re-scan or re-tune as updates of this nature happen automatically with Freesat channels and services.

ITV Announce ITV HD Simulcast Plans

ITV have today announced the planned launch of ITV1 HD, which is said to be in place by the end of the year when Freeview switch-over begins. The channel has also been confirmed as being available from the off on the Freesat platform, whilst no agreement is yet in place with Sky or Virgin Media.

ITV1 HD will run in a similar manner to how C4 HD currently is, with simulcast programmes and up to an expected 50% of peak-time programming in native HD by 2010, and 70% by 2014.

This channel is said to replace the current red button ITV HD service, although no definite date has been given for this. We’d like to think that our post helped make this decision, although we suspect it had been planned for some time. 😉

No News Is Good News?

Lets hope so, as nothing appears to be happening in the world of Freesat at the moment!

We just wanted to let you know we are still here, still pushing for little nuggets of information to share with you.

It would seem that Freesat are presently spending quite a lot of time assisting in the Digital Switch-Over (DSO), which happens this year in the Granada, West Country, Borders and Welsh regions. Freesat’s primary aim is to ensure that those areas without access to terrestrial reception via Freeview have another option to avoid a blank screen come the end of analogue.

BBC iPlayer continues in its development and an Autumn launch still seems likely, although we’d expect a late Autumn launch given that beta testing is expected in August; of which we are hoping to be part of.

There appears to be a lack of additional FTA (free-to-air) channels coming forward on the Freesat platform of late, with talkSPORT the last to be introduced back on the 19th May. BET HD made an appearance most recently but only for the BET Awards 2009; but it gave us an insight into the potential opportunities for broadcasters that don’t have permanent high-definition channels in the UK to showcase specific events.

We await the latest quarterly figures for Freesat sales, although it has been hinted that 500,000 has been surpassed which is a fantastic achievement in little over a year.

ITV HD appear to be retaining a fairly regular appearance of programmes in high-definition, although still far short of that of the BBC with 9 HD hours per day. ITV sadly continue to avoid wanting to make comment on our fairly conclusive poll of 94% of voters (2,130 to date) longing for a proper ITV HD channel rather than the current red button.

As soon as we get just a sliver of news on Freesat we’ll be sure to let you know. In the meantime, please do continue to visit other parts of our site including the digital box and television product pages, plus polls, channel listings and ITV HD schedule.

Freesat comment on Freeview announcement

Further to the news announcement today that Ofcom has awarded two licenses for HD channels on Freeview from 2010, Freesat wish to point out the following:

– Roll out of Freeview HD channels will be linked to digital switchover, which means that HD will only become available in the UK on a region-by-region basis from launch until 2012. See this page for information.

– In order to view HD channels on Freeview, consumers will need to replace their existing Freeview receiving equipment (either a set-top box or television with Freeview receiver built-in) by purchasing entirely new equipment.

– Freeview coverage in the UK currently stands at 73%. Even after digital switchover there will still be a proportion of UK households which will not be able to view Freeview and it’s HD channels whilst Freesat reaches 98% of UK homes now.

Quote from Freesat concerning today’s announcement:

With Freesat, subscription free high definition (HD) is already a reality for the UK. We believe our no strings offer of over 130 channels plus great HD programmes from the BBC and ITV, for a one off payment of as little as £120, is leading the way in making HD the standard that viewers will come to expect in the future.

Due to the way we broadcast our service, via satellite rather than traditional aerial, HD is available now to 98% of UK homes via Freesat. Freesat homes don’t have to wait until Digital Switchover reaches their region to get HD for free – which for large parts of the country is still over three years off.