Sky customers who are still using old SD-only TV boxes, can now upgrade to Sky Q free of charge. Otherwise, they’ll eventually lose access to all BBC TV channels.
In 2023, the BBC is starting to finally roll-out BBC One’s local news in HD across the country and on all devices.
In light of that, the BBC will start a gradual, multi-phased process of removing the SD versions of all their channels from both Freesat and Sky.
When these changes were first announced, the BBC said it was working closely with Sky on future plans, for those customers who are still using older Sky boxes that don’t support HD programming at all.
This week, Sky set up a page that explains the options for customers who are going to be affected by this – and free Sky Q upgrades are now being offered to those with older boxes (see full details below).
Note that Freesat users with older SD boxes will need to purchase a newer Freesat box by themselves – although the BBC is planning to run a help scheme for the elderly and vulnerable who will be impacted by these changes.
Why Are The BBC SD Channels Going Away?
From January 2023, the BBC is starting to finally roll-out local programming on BBC One and BBC Two in HD.
During the first phase, which is set to be completed by March 2023, SD-only satellite viewers will start to lose their local programming on BBC One and BBC Two, on a region-by-region basis.
At that point, affected users will be automatically switched to a single pan-UK version of each of these channels, and will get special versions of BBC One and BBC Two that won’t feature any local or Nations programmes, such as the regional news programmes on BBC Breakfast or Reporting Scotland on BBC One.
Instead, users will see this notification message on their TVs:
Then, between March 2023 and April 2024, the BBC will be reminding any remaining SD satellite viewers of the forthcoming closure of their SD channels.
There will be periodic messaging on BBC One SD (on Freesat and Sky), as seen above, advising viewers of the need to upgrade and where to get more information on the options available.
In Phase II – by the end of March 2024, the BBC will be closing all SD channel feeds on satellite – so anybody that hasn’t upgraded to satellite HD by this time will lose access to all BBC TV channels.
If you haven’t upgraded to HD-enabled satellite equipment by this time, you will also lose access to all BBC radio channels on Sky and Freesat.
How Do I Know If My Sky Box Is Affected?
To check if your Sky Box is SD-only and won’t be able to show the BBC’s HD version, Sky suggests you:
- Select Channel 105 on your remote.
- If you see Channel 5 HD, you’re not affected. If you see Channel 5 in SD, you are, and you’ll need to upgrade your Sky box.
(Note that Channel 5 isn’t affected by these changes – it’s just a way to check whether your box is currently capable of showing HD channels).
Alternatively, you can:
- Press Services on your Sky remote
- Press 4 ,then 5
- Check your box’s version number, as seen here:
The affected Sky boxes are:
- 4F01 to 4F06 (Amstrad)
- 4E01 to 4E05 (Grundig)
- 9F01 to 9F08 and 9F0A (Pace)
- 0F01 to 0F05 (Panasonic)
- 4E06 to 4E08 (Thomson)
- 4F2001 to 4F2006 (Amstrad)
- 4F2101 to 4F2118 and 9F2101 to 9F2137 (Amstrad or Pace)
- 9F2001 to 9F2024, PVR2, 9F2201 to 9F2235, 9F2301 to 9F2339 (Pace)
- 4E2101 to 4E2141 (Thomson)
Freeview viewers (via an aerial) also won’t be affected by this, while Freesat viewers with older SD boxes can go to Freesat’s dedicated page to check their options.
How Can I Upgrade My Sky SD Box?
If you have one of the affected, older Sky SD-only boxes, you can now upgrade to Sky Q at no extra cost.
Importantly, Sky says there’ll be no change to your Sky TV package or pricing.
This is important, as usually customers who wish to upgrade their Sky equipment are also asked to upgrade their plans and contracts – and that won’t be the case here (see our guide on Sky’s HD pricing changes).
Once you sign up, the new Sky Q box will be installed by one of Sky’s engineers on a date that suits you.
At that point, you’ll be able to watch all the BBC channels in HD – including all local programmes.
In order to start the upgrade process, Sky customers can call 0333 759 5121, or upgrade online via this link.
Sky has also setup a dedicated help page for this issue.
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