ITV Turn Their Back On Freesat?

With the announcement made today that ITV intend on launching their ITV2, 3 and 4 high-definition service on Sky only, you’ve got to question how much involvement ITV really have, or want, in this Freesat joint venture agreement with BBC.

Many of you will be aware that ITV have been close to financial ruin in recent years, with a £105mil loss last year alone, so you can excuse them a little for wanting to take the option which will see the biggest return, but judging by the number of emails we’ve received today, this is seen as a clear sign that ITV are turning their back on free-to-air (FTA) satellite television and as such, their own joint venture platform.

ITV have said that whilst they plan to offer ITV2 HD, ITV3 HD and ITV4 HD as part of Sky’s HD pack (£10 per month on top of £18-£48 per month), their standard-definition versions will continue to be available FTA, along with ITV1 (SD) and ITV1 HD.

If you’ve not read the full story, it is availale on the BBC News website here.

What are your thoughts on the news, do you see this as a kick in the teeth for Freesat, or that ITV’s programming is so poor in terms of content and quality that this makes no difference to you other than the obvious additional exposure for Freesat. One things for sure, the team at Freesat are no doubt unhappy with this announcement!

On better news (depending how you look at it), ITV do intend on launching ITV1+1 at the beginning of 2011, and this should be FTA.

ITV HD Christmas Schedule Released

ITV HD Schedule

ITV HD have announced their Christmas programme schedule and must say that if you are in to your films and dramas, you are going to love the content on this festive season.

Films include the sixth Star Wars films, Return of the Jedi (if you work that way around, it’s the third to me!); also on is Gorillas in the Mist, The Nutty Professor, Love Actually, Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason, Gladiator and so much more. There is also a Take That special allowing you to enjoy their sell-out ‘Circus’ tour from the past few months.

Settle in this Christmas with ITV HD, visit the full schedule of 48 programmes here.

BBC HD’s schedule for the next 9 days can be found here.

Every Star Wars Movie In HD On ITV HD

This message is a direct press release from Freesat

Jump aboard the Millennium Falcon and prepare to fight the Death Star as the entire Star Wars movie franchise is coming to a living room near you, in High Definition and subscription free, on the ITV HD service from Freesat, starting 24th October.

Running throughout the month of November and December, the entire series will be airing on ITV HD in consecutive order, beginning with Episode I: The Phantom Menace on 24th October, culminating with Episode VI: Return of the Jedi in December, and including the terrestrial premiere of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. A favourite of film fans of all ages, this franchise has to be seen in digitally remastered HD.

The Star Wars have generated a universe of their own, from books to video games and has made stars of actors such as Harrison Ford. Originally released in 1977 with Star Wars, followed by The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, director George Lucas returned to Star Wars in 1999 with The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, prequels to the original series.

Other ITV HD highlights on Freesat include films such as Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and Champions League and FA Cup football.

Freesat Calls For More HD Channels

Speaking exclusively to DigitalSpy, James Atkins, Freesat Trade Marketing Manager has said that providing more HD channels is without doubt on the agenda for Freesat, citing high-definition as a “key benefit” of the platform.

Freesat has been running since May 2008 initially launching with just BBC HD, and since adding ITV HD on an exclusive red button service. Now realising there is a huge call for more high-definition content, Freesat are urging broadcasters to consider launching HD channels. James Atkins said;

So we are very much actively building with our channels to say ‘come on guys, 80% of our sales are for HD products, there are 15 million HD TVs sold in the UK and there is a big appetite for HD. You guys need to be stepping up to the plate and putting some stuff on in HD’. So that is something that we are actively getting involved in.

When asked about the recent announcement of ITV1 HD launching on Freeview by the end of the year, James stated that whilst ITV have not confirmed their channel will be available on Freesat (we had been told differently by another member of Freesat’s team) as a replacement service to the red button, they would expect it to be so given ITV is an public broadcaster;

I think that we would expect to receive a full simulcast of ITV1 in high definition, although there is no commitment at this stage, […] But as it’s from a public service broadcaster then we would expect it to become available.

Read more on this story over at DigitalSpy.

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. 😉

ITV HD Latest Schedule

ITV HD TV Schedule

Just a quick mention for our ITV HD Schedule page, which provides up to date listings on all programmes available in high-definition on ITV HD’s red button service. The latest schedule includes:

Wednesday 5th August 2009 (7.30pm) Grimefighters (documentary)
Thursday 6th August 2009 (9.00pm) The Bill
Friday 7th August 2009 (10.35pm) The Bill (repeat)
Friday 7th August 2009 (11.35pm) Ned Kelly (film)
Saturday 8th August 2009 (11.35pm) Blue Crush
Tuesday 11th August 2009 (7.30pm) Grimefighters
Thursday 13th August 2009 (9.00pm) The Bill
Friday 14th August 2009 (10.35pm) The Bill (repeat)
Saturday 15th August 2009 (3.40pm) The Scorpion King (film)
Saturday 15th August 2009 (6.50pm) King Kong (film)
Tuesday 18th August 2009 (7.30pm) Grimefighters
Wednesday 19th August 2009 (7.30pm) Champions League (tbc)
Thursday 20th August 2009 (9.00pm) The Bill
Friday 21st August 2009 (10.35pm) The Bill (repeat)
Friday 21st August 2009 (11.35pm) Family Plot (film)

Visit the ITV HD Schedule page for the updated version

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.

The Bill In HD…When ITV Remember That Is

The Bill In HD...When ITV Remember That Is

Following the announcement that The Bill would be in stunning high-definition on the ITV HD service, ITV seem to have failed in the first week with this evenings episode not flagging the red button prompt required to access the HD feed.

Yesterdays episode (the first part of two) was available with an improved picture over what many have been use to from this long running drama, but alas, the success was short lived.

At least if ITV HD was run as a separate channel like C4 HD (not yet available on Freesat) fans could have enjoyed an up-scaled version rather than just standard-definition.

ITV blame a technical error;

Unfortunately, last night’s episode of ‘The Bill’ did not broadcast in HD as advertised due to a technical problem at ITV. ITV are looking into the matter and apologise for any disappointment caused.

Freesat themselves must be bitterly disappointed following additional promotion carried out in the last few weeks.

The Bill Goes High-Definition

The Bill - ITV HD

As of the 1st July 2009 The Bill will grace the high-definition stage on ITV HD twice per week. This is an additional boost for ITV who have clearly increased their HD output over the past few weeks. Fans of The Bill with a HD Ready television and Freesat HD digital box will be able to press the red button and enjoy this long running drama in crystal clear picture and sound.

Additional highlights over the next couple of weeks include Wimbledon, the 2004 hit staring Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany; plus drama’s such as The Royal and Kingdom. A full schedule can be found here.

ITV HD Programme Schedule Increased

It would appear from looking at the next 2 weeks listings that ITV have dramatically increased the number of programmes on their high-definition service, available to all Freesat HD owners via the red button.

With approx. 26 hours of HD in the next 2 weeks; it is still a long way off the BBC’s standard 9 hours per day, but it is a noticeable difference we thought was worth a mention, so make sure you get your fill of HD over the next few weeks!

Have the look at the latest schedule for ITV HD