TJC move breaks Freeview record

Record breaking 17th stream on a Freeview multiplex.

For the first time, 17 simultaneous Freeview channels are being bundled together on a standard definition Freeview multiplex. The previous record was 16 channels.

Shopping channel TJC has taken up capacity on the ITV-owned SDN multiplex, which for ordinary viewers means a retune may be required to continue watching the channel on its new frequency. It now becomes the occupier of the new 17th stream on SDN.

For the average viewer, the change simply means there's the option to receive more channels on the same frequency. However, because the bitrate for each channel is reduced, it can affect picture quality. As a result, most standard definition channels on Freeview use a reduced resolution of 544x576. For multiplex operators, extra videostreams provide an additional revenue streams. New encoders make the advancements possible. When Freeview first launched, multiplexes carried between 4 and 6 channels each.

SDN now carries the following 17 videostreams:

  • Drama
  • Paramount Network 
  • 5 SELECT
  • CITV / ITV3+1 / Studio 66 (timeshare)
  • ITV2+1 / ITVBe+1 / ITV4+1 (timeshare)
  • ITVBe
  • Sony Movies Action (E4 in Wales)
  • TJC
  • Quest
  • Horror Channel
  • CBS Reality
  • Hochanda
  • Blaze / TCC / Blaze+1 (timeshare)
  • QVC
  • Channel 5+1
  • 5 USA
  • 5 STAR

Many of the timeshifts shown in this list are only on Freeview for a couple of hours overnight as placeholder channels, which enable a broadcaster to secure a Freeview channel number, rather than for any viewer benefit.  If each broadcaster waited until it wanted to add a full-time channel to Freeview, they would be allocated a channel at the bottom of the channel list. By operating a placeholding service, they keep a better ranking channel number 'warm'.

While SDN has been filling up with more videostreams, the transfer of TJC leaves Arqiva, who has capacity across two standard definition multiplexes, with more vacant capacity. Its multiplexes are currently configured to fit 16 channels per multiplex, but has been running with spare capacity since the removal of a number of Sony-owned services last year. Some of the vacant capacity is being used to rehouse channels previously broadcast on temporary capacity released by Ofcom in 2013, to be used until 5G services need the bandwidth.

[Sources:, xhxf, Freeview Corporate]