Freeview to carry eight extra BBC channels during Rio Olympics

Multiplex and broadcast infrastructure company Arqiva has confirmed it will carry eight additional services on digital terrestrial TV for the duration of the 2016 Olympics

The additional services, delivered in conjunction with the BBC and consisting of a mixture of standard and high definition streams, will broadcast on the company’s COM8 multiplex, which has a technical reach of 76% of households. Arqiva says the move will help contribute towards the BBC’s goal of bringing more than 3,000 hours of coverage of the event.

In order to receive the channels, viewers must have a device that’s DVB-T2 compatible – i.e. a device supporting Freeview HD, Freeview Play, YouView (BT TV, TalkTalk TV, Plusnet TV) or EE TV.

The COM8 multiplex already carries QVC+1 HD and QVC Beauty HD on channels 111 and 112, so viewers who can receive these services now will be able to benefit from the expanded service. Viewers may need to retune their receivers at the beginning of August in order to receive the expanded Olympics service, which will be live from 5th August – 21st August 2016.

There will be further changes to the Freeview service during this time, including changes to the broadcast hours of BBC Four and BBC Four HD – the channel is being converted into an Olympics sports channel in August. According to an earlier set of information released by the BBC, the changes mean BBC Parliament will need to close and CBBC HD and CBeebies HD will need to move from their current broadcast frequency. The BBC has warned that the HD versions of both channels will have “reduced coverage” during August, although the standard definition versions of CBBC and CBeebies will continue as normal.

The BBC currently has three standard definition Red Button streams waiting to be activated (BBC RB0, BBC RB2 and BBC RB3), but the COM8 deal will provide room for more temporary Red Button streams.

Everyone with Freeview will as a result gain access to extra Olympic coverage, but due to the reduced coverage of COM8, some of it will be geographically limited and dependant on whether or not a viewer has access to DVB-T2 compatible (e.g. Freeview HD) equipment. Further details of how viewers will be affected are due to be confirmed by the BBC shortly.

The BBC has confirmed that it has completed an assessment of necessary permissions from Ofcom and that all requirements are satisfied by these arrangements, with the temporary services being offered to all platform providers on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis.

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