In a landmark shift in UK broadcasting, both the BBC and ITV have announced the closure of several Standard Definition (SD) channels on Freesat and Sky, effective January 8 and 9, 2024. This move marks the end of an era for SD broadcasting, as the industry moves towards High Definition (HD) as the new standard.
For Freesat and Sky viewers, this means that from these dates, older SD-only boxes will no longer support all BBC channels and three ITV channels. This change necessitates an upgrade to HD-compatible devices for uninterrupted viewing.
BBC’s SD Channels: Transitioning to HD
The BBC’s transition from SD to HD represents a significant evolution in television broadcasting. With all channels, including regional news on BBC One, now available in HD, the picture quality is notably superior. In response to a lower than expected demand for support following the initial announcement, the BBC has moved forward its schedule to phase out SD channels to January 8, 2024.
ITV’s Shift to HD Broadcasting
Following the BBC’s lead, ITV has also upgraded its regional news programmes to HD and will discontinue certain SD channels on Freesat and Sky starting January 9, 2024. However, ITV1 will remain available in SD for the time being, minus the regional news in HD.
Freesat Users: Checking Your Box Compatibility
Freesat viewers can determine if they are affected by these changes by using the BBC’s checking tool on Channel 799. Depending on the message received, viewers will know if they need to upgrade their set-top box by January 8, 2024, to continue receiving BBC and most ITV channels.
BBC’s HD-Replacement Support Scheme
The BBC has established a support scheme for vulnerable viewers, offering vouchers towards the purchase of new Freesat boxes and installation assistance for those who qualify.
Sky Users: Upgrading to HD
Sky users can check their box’s capability to receive HD channels and may upgrade to Sky Q at no extra cost if they have an older, SD-only box.
Impact on Freeview Users
Importantly, these changes will not affect Freeview users, who will continue to receive BBC and ITV broadcasts as usual.