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back to article Freeview HD launches, gets Channel 4

Freeview has formally launched the HD service it's been highlighting on its website for months and which has been broadcasting for even longer. Central to the launch is the arrival of Channel 4 on the free-to-air terrestrial service. Channel 4 HD will today join BBC HD and ITV 1 HD on Freeview HD. Channel 4's Welsh-language …

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Anonymous Coward

Pobol y Cwm in HD?

be still, my beating heart!

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MJI
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FAIL

No PVRS so we are stuffed

No way to record so this is a non event, also my transmitter is also HD less.

However I do have Freesat HD so why no C4HD on there - I mean I pay taxes therefore I am a part owner.

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Grenade

Only Scrubs

E4 HD has been on Sky for a few weeks. Hasn't improved the viewing experience though as it's mostly carp.

Also, Channel 4's content is 90% upscaled SD (ditto for ITV 1 obviously).

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WTF?

Freeview says I can't get its services yet

.... But I have been getting the full service since January 2007!

I see Sony have a range tv's that have the Freeview HD tuner onboard but same probalem as MJI - how do you record the programmes?

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MJI
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Grenade

I went Freesat HD

Still a lot of money but no C4HD, but at least I have BBC HD and I can record it.

My Sony HDTV also is not DVB-T2 compliant, but I knew that, but needed a new TV anyway.

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Stop

Could have fooled me

No sign of C4 HD on air or on the C4 web site. Want to try checking your facts on that?

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Thumb Down

I'd settle for Film4 SD

Every time a channel moves and we're told to retune my box loses another channel. Usually one I like. They should forget HD and spend the money on making sure the standard channels work better in most areas. It's not like I'm in the middle of nowhere behind a hill, I'm in a major city ffs.

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Check ukfree.tv

The channels do trade slots, but if you're having trouble try http://ukfree.tv and enter your postcode under 'My Settings'. That should show which transmitter you should be using and whether any maintenance work is happening.

Film 4 is on Mux D and as far as I am aware, always has been. In some locations, the muxes have changed frequencies. Mux D is unfortunately the lowest priority and may have lower power or an out-of-band frequency on some transmitters.

Work is already ongoing to make the standard channels work better - digital switch-over. To increase the power of the digital signals, the analogue signals have to be turned off. Or, rather, if the digital signal power is turned up, it would interfere with the analogue signals somewhere else in the country, or in another country. Before your digital signal can be amplified, their region must be switched over so their analogue transmitter isn't used any more. That's why switchover is being done in an apparently random fashion.

In some cases the digital aerial fitted on the transmitter to provide ONdigital back in 1998 isn't up to the job, or was mounted in a compromise position, or only broadcasts in a specific direction to avoid interference with some existing analogue signal. Those aerials are having to be replaced and, in some areas, the digital signal is being transmitted from a temporary mast while the main mast is upgraded. Oxford's signals were/are being transmitted from a new 'reserve' antenna (used when the main one is out of service) much lower down the main mast while a new antenna was fitted at the top. (The new antenna is fitted but I don't know if it's in service yet.)

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Stop

2 questions then...

will it be compressed (ruined) to fuck like standard definition on freeview?

will it end up full of hd versions of sell-me-shite-bid-tv/bid-me-shite-tv/bid-upanddown-crap-bollox-i want to murder those presenters?

thanks.

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OK, I take part of that back

After a re-scan C4 HD has now popped up in the channel list. No sign of it being advertised on Freeview (who are still showing it as "Coming soon") or C4's web site though.

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Freesat?

Channel 4 still not feeling the Freesat love I notice. Bah.

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Gold badge
FAIL

No Freeview HD

I don't understand. I bought a TV and PVR with the Freeview digital logo. The one that the old Smash saucepan robot said to buy so I can get all the channels. They don't get all the channels! I was duped!!

Meanwhile, the Sony TV I bought in Spain a year ago gets the new HD broadcasts there without any problems.

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Bronze badge

HD Ready is not the same as HD

The TV you bought will be HD Ready, at best. And all HD Ready has ever meant is that the set can display a picture when connected to something else that outputs one.

The Freeview HD spec was only finalised last year - and for some time before then, it's been known that we'd be using a brand new technology in the UK (DVB-T2) for HD.

No one told you that a set you bought would be able to receive channels using a yet-to-be deployed technology; it still gets all the Freeview channels, broadcast using the specs that were available when you bought it.

As for Spain: some countries are broadcasting HD using DVB-T (the system we use for SD) together with MPEG4/H.264 encoding, and sets that understand that have been around for a couple of years.

However, even some countries where that technology has been deployed are thinking of moving to DVB-T2 in future, for the extra capacity it brings. People in that situation will have to buy twice for HD.

By launching HD with DVB-T2, the hope is that in the UK, people won't have to buy sets with one HD standard, only to change for a second a few years down the line.

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Bronze badge

I think I do get all their non-HD channels on Freeview.

I'm in the environs of Glasgow and I get Film 4, E4 and More 4 on Freeview - not HD though, but we weren't expecting that. I also get C4+1 and E4+1.

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Erm

"State owned but advertising funded Channel 4 said it was "delighted" to be bringing its content to the channel, but we note that that delight doesn't extend to running its other offerings, including Film 4, E4 and More 4, on Freeview."

Can't blame them for that, there isn't the capacity on Freeview for more HD, largely because OFCOM wants to sell off part of the spectrum after analogue switch off.

Why, however, a public service broadcaster such as C4 is excluding it's channels from Freesat is a pertinent question to ask.

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Bronze badge

Narrow beam

Narrow beam capacity is one issue for Channel 4 on Freesat, and indeed delayed the full ITV channel for a while, too.

The other, of course, is the persistent rumour that they receive some funding from a well known satellite broadcaster towards their HD service, and that that funding has strings attached. But in the absence of hard facts, it's just a rumour.

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No capacity

The MUX on which Freeview HD runs - named 'PSB 2' or 'BBC B' - only has 40Mbps capacity, which means that there can only be four services on it, at present. An HD channel requires 8-10Mbps. (BBC One SD uses 4.9Mbps, but uses an old MPEG2 compressor - most SD channels use 2.2 - 2.4Mbps.) FIVE have decided not to take up their slot, so the BBC are going to get a second channel - they may choose to do BBC One HD and BBC Two HD. S4C HD will only be available from Welsh transmitters and will take the place of Channel 4 HD.

I imagine that once a sufficient amount of compatible equipment is out there, some of the other MUXes will be switched over, but that will reduce the number of channels. Increasing the number of MUXes is unlikely as Ofcom's plan is to sell off the spectrum released by digital switchover.

HD is generally only available in regions that have switched over already, as various BBC channels and services are still on that MUX (BBC Four, CBeebies, Red Button, BBC Parliament, BBC national radio stations).

To cover London, which switches over in 2012, a new low-power MUX is being used. There are also 'advance' low-power HD transmitters at Lichfield, Black Hill (Scottish TV Central region), Pontop Pike (Tyne Tees) and Emley Moor (Yorkshire). Lichfield's HD transmitter is half the power of the Sutton Coldfield regular Freeview transmitters. Crystal Palace and Black Hill are also half the power. Pontop Pike is the same power as the other multiplexes; Emley Moor is the same power as Mux D (Film 4, ITV 4, 4Music, VIVA, Dave ja vu, Virgin 1+1), 20% of the main channels.

For the rest of the country, there's no spare RF spectrum to squeeze in an HD transmitter yet. It'll start up when the analogue TV signals are switched off.

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Anonymous Coward

Virgin Zero-Definition

45% of UK households can't get Virgin, even if they want to. What the hell is that useless quango OFCOM doing, allowing them to have exclusive channels?

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Anonymous Coward

Wow...I've really been waiting for this

I can now watch....errr....what do they even broadcast?....oh yea....deal or no deal in HD...WHOOOOOO

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Unhappy

Problems

Sometimes during periods of change, things can go wrong.

Im beginning to wonder if this HD switch over has ruined my reception. Ever since December (HD switch on for Crystal Palace transmitter) my freeview reception has dive bombed. Co-incidentally I actually bought one of those Sony HD Freeview TVs last week. But no Ch4 HD for me and infact not even a BBC HD channel either.

It seems they may have been filtered out by the communal aerial system that serves my block of flats (i found this out in hindsight). Either than or the reception in my area has suddenly become so poor (instead of perfect like it used to be) that it can't even pick up the channels on a scan. There's not even a single HD channel listed in my EPG!

Given the risk surrounding communal aerials, I wouldnt recommend anyone bothers with Freeview HD.

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Bronze badge

Filters

Communal aerial systems aren't necessarily going to cause problems for HD, but in London and other areas where there's an infill transmitter, they may need adjustments.

Some of these systems have filters that only allow specific channels to pass, and will usually have been set up for the existing six muxes. Add a seventh, like the HD infills, and it's not going to reach the flats unless someone stumps up the cash for the engineers to tweak the filter setup.

In areas that have gone through DSO, that shouldn't be a problem, as the HD mux will be one of the six that should be passing through the communal system.

If you're having issues with other channels, then it might be caused by HD, but only if you're in an area where the HD signal from one transmitter is overlapping with the signal you're trying to pick up from elsewhere; but there aren't many places where that will happen, especially with a properly set up system.

It might be time to get your management co to look at how the distribution system is set up, and whether or not it needs some maintenance.

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Unhappy

Don't Get Too Excited

I've just had a look at Channel 4 HD and it's just upscaled SD at the moment, just like ITV HD is most of the time.

There might be some proper HD on later this evening, you never know.

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Unhappy

The cheek...

Of CH4 giving virgin and the likes extra HD channels whilst leaving freeview out in the cold, how do they get away with it?

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