The BBC is upgrading its regional channels to high definition (HD).
The move will see the local news in areas across England being shown in HD for the first time.
Why are BBC regional channels being changed?
The BBC’s regional versions of BBC One are being rolled out in HD. This was announced in November and is set to be completed in stages over spring.
Kieran Clifton, director of BBC distribution and business development, said: “We have now completed the roll-out of our BBC One HD regions on satellite platforms, and from tomorrow (Wednesday), we will start the roll-out for Freeview/YouView viewers in England.
“This means viewers will be able to get a complete version of BBC One HD in 101 in the EPG (electronic programme guide), including regional news output and other local programming. We will be retiring the red slate that previously advised viewers to go to channel 1 for local programming, as viewers will no longer need to switch to channel 1 for local news and then back to 101 for BBC One in HD.
“Making BBC One HD available on a regional basis is a major undertaking for BBC teams and our suppliers, so we are going to launch regional versions of BBC One HD in two phases. This allows us to launch the first set of regions as early as possible while we complete the preparatory work to enable us to launch the second set.
“Once we’ve completed the launch on Freeview and YouView, later in the year we plan to roll-out an update to newer Freeview Play devices that are connected to the internet. This will put BBC One HD at the top of the EPG, at channel 1, on supported TVs when they’re connected to the internet – and we’ll be m]aking similar changes to make the existing HD versions of our other channels available at the most prominent EPG numbers. In the coming months, we’ll publish more information on which Freeview Play devices can support this change on our reception advice website.”
How do I get the HD channels on Freeview?
He added: “If you already have BBC One HD on channel 101, the changes will take place automatically although on the day, your device (TV or set-top box) may prompt you to perform a rescan or retune. For more information on retuning, please visit https://www.freeview.co.uk/retune
If you don’t have an HD-enabled Freeview TV or set-top box, then you don’t need to do anything – you will continue to receive BBC One for your region, with local programmes, in standard definition at channel 1 on the EPG.
When will they launch?
A list of the regions and their launch dates in HD on Freeview and YouView can be found below.
22 March, 2023:
- East Midlands
- West Midlands
- East Yorks and Lincs
- Channel Islands
26 April, 2023 (subject to change):
- North East and Cumbria
- North West
- South West
- South (including Oxford)
- East (including Cambridge)
- South East
What will happen to standard definition channels?
Mr Clifton said: “Unfortunately, to roll regional versions of BBC One HD in England on satellite plans, we need to close the standard definition (SD) versions of our channels on the digital satellite platform. This is not a decision that’s been taken lightly – indeed, it’s been one of the key reasons why we’ve held back so long in our HD rollout plans until now.
“However, the number of SD-only satellite devices is now at a much-reduced level so to hold back the closure of our SD channels any longer would deny the benefit of all our channels being available in HD to a much greater proportion of the audience. A few other technical factors, along with that much lower number of SD-only satellite viewers, make this the right time to start the rollout of our BBC One HD feeds for the English regions.”