Timeline - Snapshots
|Digital Television Network (DTN)
|In 1997, DTN put in an application to run multiplexes B, C and D on the UK's new digital terrestrial TV platform. Their application looked like this. Please note that mux U contains channels that were not specifically placed in the public portion of the tender document - these would have been fitted in around other channels, a new multiplex would not have been created specially for them.
|British Digital Broadcasting (BDB)
|British Digital Broadcasting, a consortium between Carlton, Granada and BSkyB, made the only other application to the ITC for multiplex licences B, C and D. The original proposed channel line-up looked like this.
|BDB successfully won the licences, on the condition that BSkyB did not have any involvement. BDB agreed, and the company was renamed to OnDigital before the service went on air in 1998. This channel listing shows the full DTT service approximately a year after launching.
|OnDigital was renamed to ITV Digital, in the hope that the ITV brand would help promote the service. The Johnny Vegas and Monkey advertising was a success, bringing both of the stars immediate fame, but not helping the struggling pay TV company.
|ITV Digital's service finally ceased on 1 May 2002, causing the licences for multiplexes B, C and D to be revoked and re-advertised by the ITC.
|Digital Terrestrial Alliance (DTA)
|The terrestrial public service broadcasters were rumoured to be making a joint application for the three vacated multiplexes. This never happened, and as well as SDN and DTB making their own proposals, the BBC and this proposed pay TV service from Carlton, Granada, Channel 4 and Newincco166 (headed up by ex-Sky boys David Chance and Ian West) made separate applications for the three licences on offer. Required re-engineering of the DTT network would have caused an interim service looking something like this, before the full proposed service (left) would have been able to come on air.
|The BBC, BSkyB and Crown Castle's joint application for a completely free-to-air service won the licences on 4 June 2002. It officially came on air on 30th October 2002, looking remarkably similar to the proposal, although the BBC's mux B services launched slightly earlier. Some existing services were moved in order to group channels by genre.
|Freeview was a resounding success with further channels gaining carriage within the first year, although reported deals for services from Setanta and CBM failed to materialise. However, the free-to-air bubble was arguably about to burst when David Chance and Ian West (who had been regulary popping up in the media claiming they were still planning to launch a subscription service on DTT), announced Top-Up TV which launched on 31st March 2004. This shows the distribution of time shares amongst the five available streams.
|Ferryside DSO Trials
|The villages of Ferryside and Llansteffan in Wales became the first to switch off analogue transmissions, in a digital switch-over trial that started on 29th November 2004. The channels transmitted by the Ferryside transmitter when the trials began are shown here. They finished successfully, with the two villages becoming Britain's first digital-only community (except BBC 2 Wales which continued to broadcast in analogue) on the morning of 30th March 2005.
|On the 18th October there was a slight reshuffle of channels in order to move them back into genre groups. The new EPG introduces three digit numbering for radio and interactive services.
|Whitehaven switches over to digital
|On the 14th November, the remaining analogue TV channels were switched off at Whitehaven, signalling the beginning of the end for analogue terrestrial TV. The rest of the UK will convert to digital between 2008-2012.
|Ofcom's plan for the future of DTT (also Sky Picnic)
|Ofcom released a plan in November for upgrading the capacity of the DTT platform around 2009-10, which would see one multiplex cleared and changed to be DVB-T2/MPEG-4 (requiring a new receiver). The expected application is for HDTV, and the broadcaster's proposals are on mux B. Mux C shows Sky's proposals to run a pay TV service on DTT instead of their existing FTA channels.
|Post-DSO multiplex configuration
|On 20th November 2008, Selkirk's analogue TV transmissions were switched off and replaced with six new high-powered digital multiplexes. The relays received three multiplexes containing channels from the public service broadcasters. These new muxes were reconfigured for higher capacity 64QAM 8k mode, and contained a slightly different set of services. In addition the naming convention was changed as follows:
|Freeview's high-definition service technically launched at 6am on the 2nd December 2009, at Winter Hill and Crystal Palace transmitters only. It launched with two channels - BBC HD and ITV1 HD - instead of the expected three, and no compatible receivers available on the market. The official launch followed on the 30th March 2010, with 4HD going live the same day. (see entry below for the line-up at the official launch)
|In 2009, Ofcom kickstarted the "digital dividend" by auctioning off two frequencies of interleaved spectrum, in areas where an analogue local TV station was currently broadcasting and the area was due to switch to digital by mid-2010. These areas were Cardiff - served by Capital TV - and Manchester, the home of Channel M. Channel M won the Manchester auction and switched on the UK's first permanent local multiplex on the 12th April 2010, four months after having been switched off on analogue. (The Cardiff auction was won by Cube Interactive, prompting Capital TV to close down early; Further DDR auctions were delayed indefinitely; Channel M's digital service closed on 16th April 2012)
|Freeview first came to the Channel Islands on the 17th November 2010, creating a brand new region in a one day switchover event. Broadcasting only the public service multiplexes, all the expected channels were present with the notable exceptions of ITV2 and a high definition version of Channel TV. Both are expected to launch at a later date.
|Digital switchover complete
|On 24th October 2012, Northern Ireland completed digital switchover, the very last region to do so. On the day the NImux launched along with the very first regional version of BBC1 HD. This came after a shambolic incomplete two-stage attempt to reorganise the EPG (old LCNs shown in the list are prior to 19th September/17th October 2012, however final positions will not be adopted until LCN 65 is allocated), and re-launch of the former Channel M multiplex (now dubbed the Manchester Television Network by Canis Media/Entertainment Television Ltd, the new licence holder). The configuration of the muxes immediately prior to final DSO is here, and a CSV file containing the switchover schedule is here.
|From 8th June 2013, daily snapshots of the channel list are available. Major events will still be added to this page.
|New HD and local muxes launch
|On the 26th November 2013, Estuary TV - the first of the new PSB local TV channels - launched on a new multiplex covering Grimsby. On the same day, a new HD multiplex intending to run on a temporary basis in the cleared "600MHz" spectrum, also launched at four transmitters. The list of local channels and launch timetable as at 26th November is here, with more to be advertised as part of phase 2 and potentially phase 3.
|During the 2014 World Cup, and later extended over the Commonwealth Games, the BBC ran some test transmissions for UHD (4k) from three transmitters using the as yet vacant COM8 (600MHz mux 2) infrastructure. The first live UHD match was broadcast on 28th June 2014.
|Retune day 2014
|On the 3rd September 2014 there was a "national retune day". This was to move the childrens' and news channels to new allocations, in order to free up LCNs for "general entertainment". In the preceeding week, a number of more interesting changes occured, including placeholders for new channels and a number of services moving multiplex.
|COM8 rollout complete
|The rollout of the second interim HD multiplex - COM8 - was completed on the 2nd July 2015
|Coverage of the Olympics resulted in the mostly dormant COM8 multiplex being utilised by the BBC.
|LCN reshuffle 2017
|On 2nd August 2017 there was an EPG reshuffle as some genre blocks were getting full.
|As part of the 700MHz clearance, some areas saw the early removal of the temporary COM7/8 muxes. This line-up shows the situation before the first of these, Beacon Hill, switched off COM7/8 on 26th March 2019.
|COM8 was prepared for closedown on 22nd June 2020. Many services were moved or closed to make space for the unique services on COM8 before it was switched off.
|COM7 was prepared for closedown on 29th June 2022. Many services were moved or closed before it was switched off on 30th June 2022.
|The current channel line-up