Oct 162018

Changes to BBC HD channels via satellite soon

In the coming months there will be a few changes to BBC HD channels via satellite.

These changes will affect Freesat HD and Sky HD and other HD satellite receivers.

These changes are because the BBC has today confirmed its plans for new HD channels.

The BBC will launch BBC Two Wales HD on satellite on Thursday 29th November 2018.

BBC Two Wales HD will appear on Sky and Freesat channel 102 – obviously on standard definition receiver the SD version will continue on 102.

The BBC will also be launching BBC Two Northern Ireland, however, the service for Northern Ireland will only be carried on Freeview, YouView* and iPlayer.

There will be no BBC Two Scotland HD. BBC Two’s Scottish service is being closed in February 2019 to make way for the new BBC Scotland channel. BBC Scotland HD will be available on all digital TV platforms from the yet to be disclosed launch day.

Technical Changes

To accommodate BBC Two Wales HD from 29th November 2018 and BBC Scotland HD from February 2019, the BBC is to make some changes to the way it broadcasts its HD services via satellite. The BBC’s Kieran Clifton explained that there will be a change to the ‘Forward Error Correction’ or FEC, which will increase the capacity available to broadcast additional services.

Changing the FEC to 3/4 or 5/6 will allow the BBC to carry up to six HD channels per satellite transponder. The BBC’s HD transponders currently use a FEC of 2/3 and carry four channels per transponder.

ITV currently use an FEC of 3/4 and is able to accommodate six HD channels per transponder. In the Costa Blanca area of Spain this does make the ITV HD channels slightly harder and trickier to receive than if they use an FEC of 2/3.

A change to 5/6 would means that their reception will be similar to Discovery and Quest (SD).

But it is expected that the change will be to 3/4.

So this FEC change to BBC HD transponders could mean that some satellite installations in Spain may lose some or all BBC HD channels, if their dishes are not large enough for the area that you live in, or if the dishes are not accurately aligned, or you are using a poor performing LNB. (which is a good job that all our satellite TV installations use what we have found to be the best performing LNB available, and easily pulls in the ITV HD channels!)

All Freesat HD and Sky HD receivers will automatically update to the new frequency settings. Users of other satellite receivers may have to manually update their frequencies in their receivers, and perform a channel rescan.

However, some people using Panasonic Freesat TVs may have issues. When ITV changed their Forward Error Correction a few years ago, it was found that a number of older Panasonic devices that were not able to handle the changes. The issue is understood to be hardware related and cannot be fixed by a software upgrade.

UPDATE 17/10/2018

The changes have occurred. However, some Freesat boxes are not updating automatically, meaning some are losing BBC HD channels. Rebooting the box may help. But a new Freesat scan should solve the problem.


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  10 Responses to “Changes to BBC HD channels via satellite soon”

  1. Will this affect BBC satback on Intelsat 907?

    • No, this is for the main official public use satellite services on Astra 2 that are used by Freesat and Sky receivers… it does not affect the not for public use freeview back up services that you need to hack into on I907.

  2. We´ve lost both BBC1 HD and BBC2 HD from Freesat today – is this permanent?

    • Difficult to say as you do not mention what sized dish you have (and am guessing your location by your email name!)
      The changes mentioned in the main post took place yesterday. The change in FEC means the signals are slightly weaker.
      So if your dish is too small to receive them then the only way to get them back is a larger dish.
      If you have the right sized dish, then it means your dish is probably not aligned correctly, and these changes have emphasized this.
      Or your Freesat box has not auto updated to the new frequency settings, so performing a Freesat scan may help bring back the channel on their new settings.

  3. Hi! I have an 80cm dish and lost BBC 1 and BBC 2 HD last week. What size dish would I need to get them back? I’m in north Germany, maybe you could advise? Kind regards!

    • As per the main article, BBC channels changed some frequency settings this week.
      Hence why you have lost these channels.
      You may simply have to rescan the frequencies to pick up the new settings for these channels…
      Sky+HD boxes have automatically updated
      Most Freesat HD boxes have updated automatically – but some have required a new Freesat scan.
      Other satellite receivers will not have automatically updated so need you to manually scan the relevant frequencies.

      • I’ve rescanned but the signal is too weak for the bbc hd channels. Would a 120cm size dish be enough to receive bbc hd?

        • A larger dish should help obviously, but I have no idea what sized dish you will need – reception here in Valencia area is a bit different to where you are, and although you say “north Germany”, reception varies a lot as you travel west to east in Germany.

          • Thanks for your replies. I’m in north west Germany so in a footprint zone where reception is generally good. I’ll try the larger dish.

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