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Changes to BBC services on satellite on 24th February 2012

Alix Pryde Alix Pryde | 12:07 UK time, Monday, 20 February 2012

Satellite Dish

I wanted to share some information with you about an upcoming change to how we broadcast our satellite channels. You should not need to take any action, but I thought you might like to know what will be going on in the background.

As some people may already be aware, the satellite operator SES Astra is making a number of changes to its fleet of satellites at the 28.2oEast orbital position over the next few years. These satellites are used for broadcasting television and radio channels (including those on Sky and Freesat) to homes in the UK.

The first of these changes will take place during February when the Astra 1N satellite, which was launched last summer, replaces the Astra 2D satellite, which is coming towards the end of its life.

The BBC currently broadcasts many of its television and radio services on Astra 2D, so as part of this replacement process BBC services that are currently located on Astra 2D will be moved across to Astra 1N. The services affected are:

BBC One (including all National and Regional variants)
BBC Two (including all National variants)
BBC Three
BBC Four
BBC News
BBC Parliament
BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra

The migration will be taking place during the early hours of the morning on Friday 24th February, between approximately 03:00 and 05:00 GMT. If you are watching or listening to BBC channels via satellite during this time you may experience some intermittent disruption to service. PVR recordings of BBC programmes made during this time may also be disrupted.

The good news for satellite viewers is that the tuning details used for BBC services on Astra 1N following the migration will be the same as those used today for services on Astra 2D. The signal strength of the new satellite will also be the same or possibly better in some parts of the country. This means that the change of satellites should be invisible to most viewers - there should be no need to update or retune your set-top box.

If viewers do experience any problems, your platform operator (which we have briefed about this change) would be best placed to provide assistance:

  • Freesat viewers should contact Freesat support on 08450 990 990
  • Sky viewers should visit www.sky.com/helpcentre

We have also contacted satellite and aerial installer trade associations - the CAI (Confederation of Aerial Industries) and the RDI (Registered Digital Installers) - providing them with information with which to brief their members in case anyone experiencing a problem contacts an installer rather than their platform operator. Furthermore, we will be putting information about this change on BBC Red Button page 998 because we know not everyone has access to the internet.

I hope you experience a smooth transition through the change.

Alix Pryde is the Director of BBC Distribution.


  • Comment number 1.

    Alix, following the move of BBC News to one of the Astra 2D transponders last September I've noticed it's been reduced in bitrate, to the point whereby the picture quality is much more degraded now than it used to be. Are there any plans to resolve this as doing an A/B comparison between a BBC1 (SD) and BBC News during simulcast programming shows how much poorer the News Channel now looks with Macro Blocking on scenes of average demand to the Encoders.

    When Channel 5 stat-mux'd with the BBC services on the 10773H Transponder it used much higher bitrates and looked as good as corresponding BBC services, why can't the News Channel share the same stat-mux pool as the existing BBC services on 10803H (as C5 did)?

  • Comment number 2.

    Nothing really to add about the satellite change as it is routine but the is alot to say about BBC satellite services. The BBC has recently cut back on the number of transponders it has and reducing the services avaialable but we still have to pay the same licence fee. This is at a time when the BBC desperatly needs to increase its satellite capacity. It needs to move all it's channels to HD and in particular its local programmes. The present situation of being told to switch to an SD channel for local news is rediculous. I remember it took the BBC years to go wide screen on local programmes and now it seems we will have to put up with the same going HD.

    The low bitrates on SD and HD is rubbing very sore with viewers. Picture quality has be deteriating at a time when televisions are increasing in capability. The HD services are still running at 1440x1080 pixels when the rest of the world uses 1920x1080.

    The BBC's policy of deliberatly holding back on satellite services so they can be as poor as terestrial services is also rediculous. Extra freeview multiplexes will not be available till 2016 and so if the BBC continue with this policy there will be no more BBC HD services till then.

    We also have the issue of 3D television. The Olympic Broadcasting Service will be providing over 200 hours of the Olympics in 3D but only a very small proportion of that will be available for British viewers. This means that foreign viewers will see much more of the Olympics in 3D than will licence payers see. The BBC should hire a transponder for the duration and transmit all 200 hours. This would stimulate the economy and would boost the sales of 3D televisions.

    Of course all this is giving Sky a free hand in leading television development in the UK. They handed F1 the last quality sport remaining on the BBC over to Sky on a plate. Sky are now going to develop that into a whole channel. Sky are also leading the way in 3D. By 2016 I have no doubt that Sky will be starting a super high definition service when the BBC still won't have a decent HD service.

    All this is very sad for us older generation who use to know the BBC as a pioneer of quality. We have seen radio deteriate for high quality FM to low quality DAB and high quality SD and HD to low quality fuzzy pictures.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Its a real shame the BBC continues to short change HD and SD viewers by cutting back on picture quality. The birates just aren't high enough. Disgraceful.

  • Comment number 5.

    It's really now only a third rate service hardly worth the licence fee anymore. BBC News 24 is hardly news as the recent extended coverage of Whitney Houston's funeral demonstrated, the BBC are more interested in Celebity Culture than real news issues. Cancel the TV licence and get out more!

  • Comment number 6.

    @trevorharris - any chance you could stay on topic with your comments? It seems that whenever the BBC says anything you start making the same old comments about HD picture quality (I think it is pretty good now); bit rates (if you compare current SD to older PAL broadcasts they look quite reasonable to me); the number of HD services (who will provide more HD for free?); 3D (you seem to be the only one interested!). You've now started on F1 and can't wait until you bring the subject of the television license fee up again.

    Will you only (finally) shut up when every BBC channel (including all the regions - not an issue for Sky) is transmitting 3D widescreen 8K resolution and it is provided FOC?

    BTW - how much are you paying Sky every month for your 3D service?


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