The completion of the rollout of BBC One HD regions on Freeview is now just weeks away. By the end of next month (April), all viewers will be able to receive their local version of the channel on Freeview – the last of the main TV platforms to be upgraded.
These changes only affect viewers in England, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland already have their local BBC One in HD.
The arrival of BBC One HD regions on Freeview is dependent on an upgrade to the multiplex that carries Freeview HD channels. Multiplex PSB-3, also known as BBC-B, has always had limited regionality, which is why not every ITV 1 HD region is currently available on the platform.
Instead, the regional structure, at least in England, was based on ITV 1’s macro advertising regions back in 2010, when Freeview HD first launched.
A new regionalised service ID, linked to the existing national BBC One HD feed had been added in each of the five regional zones that PSB3 was split into. The five zones were:
(1) north of England;
(2) East/West Midlands;
(3) East, South East and South England;
(5) West and South West.
This reflected the existing regionalisation of PSB3.
But more needed to happen to enable viewers to receive their local BBC One in HD across England. Otherwise, you’d have viewers in Berwick-upon-Tweed (NE and Cumbria region) sharing the same service as Birkenhead (North West).
This week has seen the arrival of additional regional service IDs, indicating that the PSB3 multiplex has begun to be regionalised further.
For example, in the East Midlands, a new separate service ID linked to BBC One HD is now live, replacing the service ID previously shared with the West Midlands. There is also now a separate version of the PSB3 multiplex for East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, with its own regional BBC One HD service ID waiting in the wings.
The service IDs are not visible to ordinary viewers. But when BBC One HD is regionalised, the new regional copy of BBC One HD will be attached to the relevant service ID in each region.
At present, the new service IDs are:
17538 West and South West;
17539 East, South East and South;
17541 West Midlands;
17542 East Midlands;
17544 North West, Yorkshire, North East and Cumbria;
17551 East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
More will follow.
Once the day comes for your regional service to go live, BBC One HD will simply switch from the current national feed to your regional service.
On a rather technical note, as both the service ID for the current national BBC One HD feed and the new regional service IDs for your local BBC One HD are linked to the same audio and video PIDs, your receiver may not need retuning when the changeover happens.
From experience, after the change happens, some TVs may take a few moments to first tune into the ‘new’ BBC One HD when changing channels.
However, experience also tells me there will always be some devices that won’t cope very well with the change. Every technical change on Freeview seems to flush out receivers that for whatever reason are awkward or non-compliant, although Everyone TV (formerly Digital UK) has got better at enforcing minimum specifications on manufacturers.
The BBC is yet to publish exact Freeview HD timescales and guidance to viewers.
PICTURED: BBC One sting. COPYRIGHT: BBC.