ITV1 HD To Launch In April

It has been confirmed today that ITV1 HD will be available as a standalone channel (channel 119 – no red button) from 2nd April 2010. The channel which will be a simulcast of ITV1 will also be available on Sky and Virgin Media.

The ITV1 schedule will be simulcast on the new channel, with the majority of peak time content available in ‘native’ HD, including all live football, and an increasing range of drama, factual and entertainment programming. Other ITV1 content including GMTV and the daytime schedule, will be ‘upscaled’ – giving viewers a better than ever experience of the nation’s most popular commercial channel.

Peter Fincham, ITV Director of Television, Channels and Online, said:

The availability of high definition content is something viewers have come to expect as standard and, as we approach the 2010 World Cup, I’m delighted that we are able to launch our new channel, ITV1 HD, on all major platforms.

All of our output will benefit from the stunning picture quality that high definition offers, whether it’s ITV’s original drama, landmark factual shows, entertainment events or our live football.

This is great news and should now put an end to all the problems ITV have had with certain manufacturers and the red button service; it should also put ITV more in the spot light to take the service more seriously and offer more high-definition content over the coming years.

ITV To Launch ITV1+1 Channel


ITV have announced plans to launch a time-shift channel for ITV1. ITV1+1 is expected to go live on 1st October 2009, completing the line-up follow the introduction of ITV2+1, ITV3+1 and ITV4+1 some time ago.

The channel is expected to be available FTA on all satellite platforms, including both Freesat and Sky; plus will be available on Virgin Media. Rumours from within suggest channel slot 112 has already been assigned on the Freesat EPG.

The 1 hour time-shift channel will be available between the hours of 10:25 to 07:00 every day; the notable exclusion being when GMTV is broadcast (GMTV is a franchise therefore ITV don’t have complete control to approve this).

There will be 6 regions available:

South East Macro (Meridian, East)
West Macro (Wales, West, South West)
Yorkshire/Tyne Tees Macro
Granada/Border Macro

ITV1+1 will not be available in Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands as they are under separate agreement.

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. 😉

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.

ITV Profits Drop

ITV have today announced a 41% drop in profits for 2008. It comes as no surprise that ITV profits are down, they’ve struggled for a number of years now, but with an expected 600 job cuts and £65m sliced from the budget, it poses the question what influence this will have on Freesat.

ITV are joint owners of Freesat with the BBC, and whilst funds will already have been allocated and taken into account for further development of the platform, you have to wonder how far their budget will go, and whether Freesat is as much a priority to them as their other projects, after all, Freesat is a ‘not for profit’ platform.

In addition, many will be concerned about high-definition; ITV whilst building on their existing content are still struggling to achieve more than 5-10 HD hours per week, via their red button service exclusive to Freesat. We can only hope that this severe drop in profits won’t damage their ability to think to the future.

If we can get a response from ITV on Freesat and HD specifically, we’ll let you know.

What do you think? Do you feel that this will have any impact?

BBC launch Project Canvas proposal

The BBC has launched a public consultation on Project Canvas, the proposal for an online catch-up service, which would allow viewers to watch on demand content from the BBC, ITV, plus many more directly through their television sets.

The service, expected to roll-out in 2010 will be available through both Freesat and Freeview platforms, although it’s believed new equipment will be required, costing in the region of £100-£200. iPlayer, which launches in the Autumn for the existing Freesat customer base will require a new receiver for the full Project Canvas setup.

Project Canvas in many ways combines the efforts of multiple on-demand services all accessible through your television set, and is expected to be opened up to more than just the main channels such as BBC and ITV, but also NHS Direct, YouTube, plus many more web based video services, the possibilities may be endless.

Project Canvas is seeking to be transparent about what the service will deliver and how it is structured, in order to avoid the same fate of Kangaroo, the broadband pay-TV venture backed by BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4, which was scrapped earlier this month after falling foul of competition regulators.

The BBC has applied to the BBC Trust for its permission to form a joint venture partnership, which would set and promote a common standard for delivering on-demand TV and other internet content through a broadband connection. The BBC Trust, which will have the ultimate say on the proposal, will publish it’s interim conclusion by 8 June 2009 and final decision by 24 July 2009.

It is expected the project will cost partners £24m to get up and running, with the BBC expecting a four way equal split funding (assuming four partners) at £6m each. The proposal is for the venture to include the Freesat platform; the total cost including Freesat over a five-year period is around £16.6m. It’s believed ITV’s £6m contribution to the service has already been accounted for and will not represent a new outlay at a time when their finances are under severe pressure.

The project is expected to be run as a “not for profit” organisation, which is usually the case when the BBC are involved, same as BBC’s Freesat joint-venture with ITV.

On-demand programming, particularly catch-up TV services such as BBC iPlayer, has proven to be massively popular on TV services such as Virgin Media’s cable network, which could be part of the reason for such interest in combining television and Internet services.

Speaking about Project Canvas, Emma Scott, Managing Director of Freesat said;

Freesat is already fully behind the Canvas proposal and know from our own experience that its mix of free-to-air channels, HD, IPTV and EPG innovations will be an attractive proposition to consumers.

Our research shows that a third of viewers watch more programming once they see it in HD and we also know that the launch of iPlayer to Freesat this autumn is hotly anticipated.

Canvas now has the potential to continue the UK’s tradition of great free-to-air TV.

So what do you think, do you believe Project Canvas will get approval from the trust, or vetoed in the same way Kangaroo did?

ITV Regions Not Available On Freesat

Every day we receive a number of enquiries into why a specific ITV region is not available; when entering a postcode on setup with a Freesat digital box. The reason being that ITV must broadcast all their FTA (free-to-air) channels/regions from the tightly focused Astra 2D beam, to avoid over-spill into other European countries (OFCOM ruling). Unfortunately at this time ITV don’t have enough space available, and therefore specific regions are encrypted on another beam, not accessible to Freesat.

The regions include:

– Anglia west
– Central South West
– Meridian North
– Meridian South East
– Tyne Tees South
– Yorks East

Hopefully this will be resolved soon but for now, you will be defaulted to a nearby region if your postcode is within one of those areas.

Freesat don’t control the allocation of postcode regional assignment, so if you wish to make a complaint about this, you will need to do so directly with ITV.

ITV4+1 Exclusively On Satellite

It has been announced that ITV4 will have a timeshift channel, ITV4+1 by the end of the year.

The channel, which will begin BARB reporting on December 1st 2008 will appear on Freesat channel 118, as well as Sky channel 180, but won’t be available on Virgin Media, just like the other ITV timeshift channels, making this an exclusive satellite channel.

There will be no GMTV2 content on ITV4+1. GMTV2 will continue to be carried on ITV4, but this will not be stagger cast on ITV4+1, which will simply carry a caption between 07:00 and 10:24 stating that programming starts at 10:25.