BBC One viewers on Freeview are getting a long-awaited upgrade this week, when local news in High Definition will finally become available – but only for some regions, at this point.
This means that after 12 years and many delays, those red screens that tell you to switch to the SD channel for your regional news on BBC One HD – will finally be going away.
The Freeview (and Youview) roll-out, which was announced back in November 2022, will be done in two phases:
On Wednesday, March 22, the 6:30pm BBC Local News programme will become available in six regions – including London and East Midlands.
Then, on April 26 (the exact date is still subject to change), seven more regions will be added, including North East & Cumbria, South (including Oxford) and more (see the full list of regions below).
On the same day (March 22), several other Freeview channels will be changing places, along with three new channel launches – see the full list of Freeview updates here.
Meanwhile, the switch from SD to HD local news on Freesat and Sky has already been completed, with all of the BBC’s SD channels set to be shut down next year.
In light of that, Sky has been offering free Sky Q upgrades to customers with older, SD-only boxes. On Freesat, a help scheme for vulnerable customers with older SD boxes is supposed to launch at some point – but has been delayed so far.
As for BBC iPlayer – curiously, the BBC is yet to ensure BBC One HD for the English regions is fully available on its streaming app. The BBC says they are “working on the upgrade”, and will publish further news on this “soon”.
BBC Regional HD News Coming To Freeview
BBC One HD launched as a separate channel back in 2010. A few years later, regional programming (which mainly consists of regional news broadcasts) also became available in HD – but only in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The promise of regional HD news for viewers in England has been around for years – but BBC One HD viewers were still stuck with the red warning screen that prompted them to switch to BBC One (SD) to watch their regional news.
So, as it currently stands on Freeview, only once the regional programmes (such as the evening news) are done, the regular broadcast returns to BBC One HD.
Starting tomorrow (March 22), the regional versions of BBC One HD for Freeview and YouView will finally start to roll out.
At that point, viewers will find the correct version of BBC One HD for their region on Freeview Channel 101 (the SD version will still be available on Freeview Channel 1).
If BBC One HD is already available for you on Channel 101, then these changes should be automatic on the day – however, on some devices, a manual retune may be needed.
BBC HD Local News Regions Launch List
The following regions / BBC local news programmes (at 6:30pm) will be available in HD, on Freeview, from March 22, 2023 –
- East Midlands – East Midlands Today
- West Midlands – Midlands Today
- East Yorks & Lincs – Look North (East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire)
- London – BBC London
- Channel Islands – BBC Channel Islands News
- Yorkshire – Look North (Yorkshire)
The following regions / BBC local news programmes (at 6:30pm) will be available in HD, on Freeview, from April 26, 2023 (the date has been confirmed see more here) –
- North East & Cumbria – Look North (North East & Cumbria)
- North West – North West Tonight
- West – Points West
- South West – Spotlight
- South (incl. Oxford) – South Today
- East (incl. Cambridge) – Look East
- South East – South East Today
BBC One HD Changing Numbers
Later in the year, the BBC is planning to move BBC One HD from Freeview Channel 101 to Freeview Channel 1, so it will be at the top of the EPG list – with more BBC HD channels moving to more prominent channel numbers in the future.
However, this change will only be supported on newer, internet-connected Freeview devices from 2020 onwards, that support Freeview Play’s Channel List Management technology.
This means that, for the time being, there are very few Freeview Play boxes and TVs that will support this – even the popular Manhattan T3-R Freeview box doesn’t support CLM.
A full list of Freeview devices that support this change will be published in due course (along with newer devices that may launch this year).
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