After what seems to be a long time of waiting, both the BBC and ITV are stepping up SD channel switch-off on satellite.
Here are some of the key deadlines in the coming months.
By Tuesday 12th December 2023 *
ITV launches Border Scotland HD, Channel HD on Sky satellite and Freesat in their respective regions.
ITVBe HD launches nationwide on Sky and Freesat, replacing the SD version on the same channel number.
Monday 8th January 2024
The BBC will close all of its SD channels. The BBC plans to replace programmes with an on-screen ‘channel closed’ message signposting to viewer support for a limited period of time.
Tuesday 9th January 2024
ITV will close SD versions of Border Scotland, Channel, UTV and Wales. It will now also close ITVBe SD and SD copies of ITV 3 and ITV 4.
From March 2024
Sky to make further technical changes to its platform meaning older SD-only boxes will continue to lose channels and ultimately no longer work.
It isn’t getting rid of all SD channels, but those that survive will be migrated to a different broadcast standard (DVB-S2), which isn’t supported by old boxes.
* Channel addition and delisting dates may vary by up to a day between Freesat and Sky because of the way services are configured on satellite. Some older Freesat HD boxes update during the early hours of the next morning.
Will anyone notice?
Realistically the vast majority of Sky satellite and Freesat viewers will not notice a thing. Over 98% of satellite viewers are already using an HD box, and the BBC suspects the figure might be closer to 100%, given low volumes of calls to its support helpline after it introduced on-screen messaging.
On Sky, viewers still using the SD copies of the above-mentioned channels in the 800s, perhaps for recording purposes, will notice them disappearing as they are delisted.
Freesat has already delisted SD copies of channels on its HD channel list. So apart from the current non-HD ITV services upgrading to HD, nothing changes.
In fact, the closure of SD services on satellite could end up like the end of the old 405-line black and white VHF TV service.
By the time it closed in January 1985, hardly anyone noticed its passing, such was the adoption of 625 UHF TV in the 21 years since BBC Two launched as a 625-line service and just over 15 years after BBC One and ITV converted to the then new standard.
For comparison, next year will mark 18 years since the launch of Sky HD.
PICTURED: satellite dishes. COPYRIGHT: Unknown.