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What is Freeview? Free digital TV through your TV aerial

What are Freeview, Freeview HD and Freeview+?

Freeview logoFreeview is the brand name for the UK’s digital terrestrial TV service – TV channels delivered through your TV aerial. The majority of TV channels on Freeview are free-to-air, but there are a small majority of pay-per-view and subscription channels such as ESPN, Top-Up TV and adult channels.

The Freeview programme guide carries information on the next seven days of programmes for all channels.

Latest news for FreeviewFreeview HD is the brand name and technical specification for high definition TV on Freeview, including technology for services streamed over broadband, such as BBC iPlayer and Connect TV.

Freeview+ (and Freeview+HD) is the brand and specification for devices which can record Freeview TV channels.

How many channels are on Freeview?

As of August 2, 2012, there were 65 free TV channels on Freeview, not including Red Button video streams, plus 11 pay-TV channels and 31 free radio channels. There are eight interactive data or video streams, and six channels which are gateways to broadband-delivered services.

How can I get Freeview?

To get Freeview, you connect any device carrying a Freeview logo to your TV aerial (and your TV if necessary). You cannot get Freeview via a satellite dish or cable TV connection.

How can I record Freeview: Freeview+?

Freeview+ logoAny product carrying a Freeview+ logo will be have two Freeview tuners and a PC-style hard disc, and can record the digital signal of a Freeview TV channel direct to the disc. It will be able to record two channels simultaneously while you watch a recording, or record one channel while you watch live TV.

Recordings can be set up by pressing the record button while a programme is highlighted in the programme guide. You should be offered the option of a recording all new episodes in any series of programmes.

Freeview+ devices can also provide ‘live pause’ – if you press the pause button while watching live TV, it will continue to record the broadcast and you can un-pause to keep watching or fast-forward to catch up. Live pause is usually limited to an hour.

You can also record from the Scart output of most Freeview products to a DVD or Blu-ray recorder, or even an old-fashioned VCR.

Can I get iPlayer and other broadband connected services on Freeview?

Freeview HD devices are all able to use your broadband connection to access extra services. These may be free, such as the BBC iPlayer for catching up on the previous seven days of TV, or pay-TV channels like those from Connect TV.

Who is in charge of Freeview?

No one has complete control over Freeview. The company called ‘Freeview’ is a marketing business which unites the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky (yes, really), and Arqiva, which operates the UK’s TV and radio transmitters. As well as pushing the Freeview brand, it works with other groups to develop new features for Freeview.

The technology behind Freeview is managed by the Digital TV Group, which represents almost all of the technology companies involved in digital TV in the UK. The DTG publishes the D-Book, a set of technical standards updated annually to which everyone must adhere, from broadcasters to TV manufacturers to software developers.

Any manufacturer who wants to wear the Freeview, Freeview+ or Freeview HD logo on their products must submit them to DTG Testing, which issues a certificate of conformance to products which pass a battery of tests for compliance with the D-Book.

DTT Multiplex Operators Ltd, or DMOL, is in charge of allocating Freeview channel numbers and delivering the on-screen programme guide data. It’s owned by the four Freeview multiplex operators: the BBC, Digital 3&4 Ltd (owned by ITV and Channel 4), SDN (owned by ITV) and Arqiva.

Freeview is also influenced by actions and needs of several official agencies: the UK communications regulator Ofcom, Digital UK (the organisation set up to manage the Digital Switchover), and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

What is a multiplex?

A multiplex, or mux, is a group of TV channels, combined into a single digital information stream with their programme information and other data, and broadcast on a single frequency.

Freeview has six muxes – PSB1, PSB2, and PSB3; and COM1, COM2, and COM3.

The three PSB muxes carry public service broadcaster channels and will reach more than 98.5 per cent of the British population when Digital Switchover is complete at the end of 2012.

PSB1 has most of the BBC’s standard-definition TV channels, and PSB2 has most of the ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 standard-definition channels. PSB3 is the high-definition mux, carrying BBC One HD, BBC HD, ITV1 HD, and Channel 4 HD.

The three COM muxes carry mostly commercial channels – from G.O.L.D. and Dave to The Jewellery Channel, and a few of the ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 spin-offs. The COM muxes will reach about 90 per cent of the population after Digital Switchover.

What broadcasting technology does Freeview use?

Freeview’s standard definition channels (everything except PSB3) are modulated in DVB-T, Europe’s standard format for terrestrial digital TV, and are compressed with MPEG-2.

Freeview HD uses DVB-T2, Europe’s advanced format for DTT, and signals are compressed in MPEG-4, which can squeeze up to five HD channels into a single mux.

What changes are expected for Freeview?

The arrival of 4G mobile broadband services will cause interference for Freeview signals in some areas as networks come online in mid-2013. Areas affected by this 4G Freeview Fail are being covered by

To overcome this, some Freeview muxes will move to new frequencies away from interference, and viewers will have to re-tune their TVs and set-top boxes as they did during Digital Switchover.

In other affected areas, viewers will be given a filter for their aerial to block out the interference, and if this is not effective, they will be given help to switch their main TV to Freesat or Virgin Media cable TV.

It is also likely that all Freeview muxes will eventually be switched to the same technology used by Freeview HD. This will enable the channels to fit into a smaller slice of radio spectrum, so that more can be made available for mobile broadband. 

Latest news for Freeview

Only RDI-approved installers can now use Freeview logo

Only RDI-approved installers can use Freeview logoUPDATE 17/1/2013: The RDI and Freeview have confirmed that this is not an exclusive agreement. 

The Freeview logo is also available to installers and other organisations who sign a trade license agreement with Freeview.

Original story: TV installers and engineers now have to get approval from the Registered Digital Institute before they can use the Freeview logo.

The exclusive deal means installers will have to join the RDI and pass its qualifications and security checks to put the Freeview logo on their websites, shops, vans or adverts.

Guy North, Freeview’s marketing communications director at Freeview, said: “We are looking forward to working closely with the RDI to ensure that consumers can get peace of mind about their aerial installations.

“By having only RDI-approved members sign up to this partnership, we are confident that consumers will be getting a high quality of service when they choose Freeview-accredited engineers or installers.”

The RDI is one of two professional bodies for digital TV installers (the other being the Confederation of Aerial Industries), and was spun off from the Registered Digital Installer Licensing Body established during Digital Switchover to combat cowboy TV installers.

RDI members have to meet minimum standards of training and experience, pass a criminal records background check and carry professional insurance. They also carry ID cards, have access to training, and can use the blue Digital Tick logo.

January 14, 2013

Freeview retune time: 19/09/2012

Get set to retune your Freeview boxes next Wednesday – Channels 8 and 45 are being cleared in England and Northern Ireland and Scotland and Wales respectively to make way for Local TV.

Popular comedy channel Dave is also jumping further up the list, swapping places with Yesterday. Other proposed changes to the Freeview EPG are being put on hold following an appeal from Sky, which is protesting the proposed move of Sky News to further down the EPG. 

Read our full breakdown of the new channel order plus our guide on how to retune your Freeview equipment.

September 13, 2012

Freeview EPG to change on September 19

The Freeview channel guide will be reorganised on September 19, with more channels for entertainment, new interactive and broadband TV channel sections, and a new local TV slot.

July 30, 2012


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