Changes to BBC services on satellite and cable: An Update
"reflecting aerial", a BBC R&D prototype satellite dish, 1970
Alix wrote on August 26 about planned changes to how some BBC channels are digitally transmitted. A month later, some BBC channels are now moving between satellite transponders. Alix blogs now to let you know how the changes are going.
I thought you would appreciate an update on the progress we have been making on this change. There are two areas that I think will be of particular interest to you:
- Further details of the technical changes
- A summary of the communications we have been putting in place
1. The Technical Changes
BBC News, BBC Parliament and BBC ALBA are currently being "dual illuminated", i.e., they are still being broadcast on transponder DSat 3 and now also being broadcast on their new home transponders (DSat 2, 5 and 6 respectively). This enables the platform operators that use our satellite broadcasts to switch from the old feed to the new feed:
- Freesat made its switch between the current and new transponders yesterday (Thursday 22 September). So if you are a Freesat viewer, please remember to check that any recordings you have booked on these three TV channels are still scheduled after this point. Our work with Freesat and testing leads us to believe that the vast majority of Freesat viewers should not need to do anything special, but if you have any trouble tuning into these three channels, try turning your receiver off and on again. If you are still having trouble, the Freesat call centre will be best placed to advise you and can be reached on 08450 990 990.
- Virgin Media has also made its switch yesterday. Virgin Media customers should not need to take any action.
- Sky will be making its switch in the afternoon on Monday 26 September. So if you are a Sky viewer, please remember to check that any recordings you have booked on these three TV channels are still scheduled after this point. And if you have any difficulty receiving the three channels, the Sky customer call centre on 08442 411 653 should be able to help you.
- If you have another type of satellite receiver and you need to perform a manual retune, please do this at some point between now and Monday 26 September to avoid experiencing a break in your reception of these channels. The tuning details for the relevant transponders can be found via the link provided in my original posting above.
As for the changes to the BBC Red Button ETV streams:
- The new ETV Stream applications (on all satellite platforms) will begin using the video and audio on DSat7 in the next couple of weeks. Various parts of the BBC Red Button service on satellite will be unavailable for short periods on that day. Don't worry; these should return when we have finished our work.
- We then intend to broadcast colour bars on the following day on DSat3 for a couple of hours to allow us to confirm that all applications are pointed correctly at DSat7.
- We will then be switching off DSat3 on 7 October.
We have been liaising with various colleagues and partners to help make sure that (a) our audiences are aware of the changes in advance and that (b) in the small proportion of cases where some intervention may be needed by the viewer, the people they call for help are well-informed.
To support the first of these goals, to ensure our audiences are aware:
- BBC Red Button page 998 has been loaded with information and advice about this change.
- BBC News presenters made announcements on air yesterday about the changes to Freesat (there was one around 10.30 for example), pointing viewers to BBC Red Button page 998 for further information. We will liaise with BBC News to do something similar on Monday for Sky viewers.
- BBC Parliament is broadcasting a "slide" in some of its programme junctions alerting viewers to the change.
- BBC ALBA has a message on screen during the day alerting viewers to the change and pointing them to BBC Red Button page 998 for more information. There is also a message on its website.
- The Radio Times' "Doctor Digital" has highlighted the change as the first item in the current edition (17-23 September, page 153). We also sent details of the change to a number of technical magazines in the hope that they will share the news with their readers too.
Then in support of the second goal:
- We have briefed the BBC, Freesat and Sky call centres so that agents should be able to provide appropriate advice.
- We have sought to brief the aerial installer community by liaising with the CAI (Confederation of Aerial Industries) and the RDI (Registered Digital Installers), providing them with information with which to brief their members through their website and/or newsletter.
And of course this blog itself will hopefully be presented to people who perform an internet search seeking assistance.
So to draw this update to a close, I hope this shows you how hard we try to make sure our audiences have a smooth experience through the technical changes we make. Also, I’d like to thank the people who have taken the time and trouble to give us suggestions on how we could improve on the communications around previous changes we have made. As you can see, we listen to and take on board this helpful feedback and use it to help us up our game in how we serve our audiences.
Alix Pryde is the Director of BBC Distribution
Update Thursday 29th September 10 a.m.
I wanted to give you a brief update on the implementation of this change. Freesat and Virgin Media successfully moved over on Thursday 22 September followed by Sky on Monday 26 September. The move of our ETV services was carried out yesterday (Wednesday 28 September) and you may have noticed that parts of our BBC Red Button service were unavailable for periods of time.
I'm pleased to report that we have completed our changes now and all remaining services are back on-air using DSat7. We have some more testing scheduled for today when we will put colour bars up on DSat3 to check that the streams there are no longer being used by Sky, Virgin Media or Freesat.
If you are a satellite or cable viewer, I hope that this transition has been a smooth one for you. My heartfelt thanks to the many teams involved for all the care and attention to detail they have put into implementing the complex changes involved and communicating with our audiences about them.