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Thousands of Britons will lose access to BBC channels – find out if you’ll be affected 

A massive upgrade means thousands of UK satellite viewers will lose access to their BBC channels – unless they buy a new set-top box.

From this week, BBC is replacing its standard definition (SD) feeds on satellite with high definition (HD) versions, starting with BBC One.

Satellite customers in the south of England will get the update first, followed by the rest of the country in January and February.

Here’s how to make sure you don’t lose your BBC channels when it comes into effect.

A massive upgrade to BBC programming means some satellite viewers have lost access to channels (file

How to find out if you are affected

Whether you are affected depends on which satellite platform you use: Sky or Freesat.

For those on Freesat, check channel 799 on your satellite TV to see if you have a compatible receiver.

If you get a ‘Good news!’ message, it means you are ready and you are not affected. It also means your new HD BBC One region will automatically appear on channel 101 for the next few months.

However, if you see a message that says “sorry, your satellite set-top box cannot receive high-definition services,” then the changes will affect you.

If so, you’ll need to upgrade your Freesat set-top box to an HD device, which is sold on Freesat’s website and various retailers.

For those using Sky, the easiest way to check is to go to channel number 105.

If you see “Channel 5 HD” you don’t need to do anything else, but if you see “Channel 5” without HD at the end, you’re affected and need to upgrade.

Those affected will start to lose BBC One in January or February, but could lose all BBC channels in early 2024 once the change is complete.

The BBC announced the change last November, but the public broadcaster will roll it out from this week.

“We will upgrade all BBC channels to HD on satellite,” the BBC said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, in order for regional versions of BBC One HD to roll in England on satellite plans, we will have to close down the standard definition (or SD) versions of our channels on the digital satellite platform.

“This is not a decision taken lightly – in fact, it has been one of the main reasons why we hesitated for so long with our HD rollout plans.”

Satellite channels are broadcast from a TV station on Earth to satellites orbiting in space above us.

The signals are then sent back to Earth and picked up by your satellite dish.

Until now, for example, satellite viewers in London had to switch to channel 101 to get BBC One in SD, and channel 106 to get BBC One in HD. (These satellite channel numbers vary depending on the region.)

Unfortunately, local variants of BBC One (e.g. BBC One London, BBC One South) have not been in HD.

So if satellite viewers watched BBC One in HD on channel 106 at 6:30pm, they would need to switch to SD on channel 101 to receive their local news bulletin.

With the change, channel 101 will now be in HD so they no longer have to, while channel 106 is more or less defunct for now.

To access free TV via satellite, you need a satellite dish and a satellite receiver, usually a separate set-top box (pictured)

To access free TV via satellite, you need a satellite dish and a satellite receiver, usually a separate set-top box (pictured)

Satellite vs Antenna

The main difference between aerial and satellite TV is the way channels arrive on your TV.

Satellite channels are broadcast from a TV station on Earth to geostationary satellites orbiting in space above us. The signals are then sent back to Earth and picked up by your satellite dish.

Aerial (or terrestrial) signals, such as you get from Freeview, are sent from broadcast towers across the UK to an antenna attached to your home or a smaller indoor antenna placed near your television.

BBC One South, BBC One Northern Ireland and BBC Two Northern Ireland are making the change this week, with BBC One East and BBC One East Midlands following next week, followed by more regions in February.

BBC One London will not make the switch until the week of February 13.

Whether you are affected depends on which satellite platform you use: Sky or Freesat.

For those on Freesat, check channel 799 on your satellite TV to see if you have a compatible receiver.

If you get a ‘Good news!’ message, it means you are ready and nothing is happening, so you don’t have to do anything.

It also means your new HD BBC One region will automatically appear on what used to be the BBC One SD channel for the next few months.

However, if you see a message that says “sorry, your satellite set-top box cannot receive high definition services,” these changes will affect you.

If so, you’ll need to upgrade your Freesat set-top box to an HD device, which is sold on Freesat’s website and various retailers.

This post means you're unaffected by the switchover and ready to receive your version of BBC One in HD in early 2023

This post means you’re unaffected by the switchover and ready to receive your version of BBC One in HD in early 2023

Seeing this message means you're dealing with the BBC's changes to the SD and HD channels

Seeing this message means you’re dealing with the BBC’s changes to the SD and HD channels

Meanwhile, for those using the Sky platform, the easiest way to check is to go to channel number 105.

If you see “Channel 5 HD” you don’t need to do anything else, but if you see “Channel 5” without HD at the end, you’re affected and need to upgrade.

The BBC and Freesat have launched a dedicated website to support those with only SD satellite boxes moving to a high definition (HD) device.

Sky also has a list of affected SD-only set-top boxes on its website, including ‘4F2001 to 4F2006 (Amstrad)’ and ‘0F01 to 0F05 (Panasonic)’.

When will my region get the satellite HD upgrade?

See below when the high definition (HD) version of local BBC One channels (and a few local BBC Two channels) will launch for satellite customers.

Depending on whether you are using a Freesat or Sky device, the dates will be slightly different.

Other BBC channels (BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four) will also switch in all regions by the end of March 2024.

Week of January 23

– BBC One South

– BBC One Northern Ireland

– BBC Two Northern Ireland

Week of January 31

– BBC One East

-BBC One East Midlands

Week of February 6

– BBC ALBA

-BBC One West Midlands

– BBC One East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

– BBC One Wales and BBC Two Wales

Week of February 13

– BBC red button

-BBC One West

– BBC One South West

– BBC One Channel Islands

– BBC One London

Week of February 20

– BBC Parliament

– BBC One North East and Cumbria

– BBC One North West

-BBC One Yorkshire

– BBC One Scotland

– BBC One South East

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