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I've been wondering for a while now what I could write one of my next ops on… and when I noticed the topic for Freeview, I felt I had found an ideal subject to wax lyrical on…
WHAT IS FREEVIEW?
Freeview in its simplest form is digital television that comprises of many more channels than those found on regular terrestrial television in the UK (BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5).
As Freeview doesn't offer any premium channels (though there are some receiver boxes that allow subscriptions to such channels) there is only one payment to pay - and that is when you buy your Freeview receiver box. The boxes are actually very cheap now and can usually be found from around about £20 upwards.
Before investing in a Freeview receiver, it is advisable to check that Freeview reception is good in your area. Even if it is broadcast in your area, you may still have to upgrade any existing aerial that you have so it is a good idea to check first!
To check that your area supports Freeview reception, go to:
Once there, you click on the 'Coverage Check' tab and then enter your postcode and house number - it should then tell you if you can view Freeview in your area.
WHAT CHANNELS ARE ON FREEVIEW?
There are many more channels available on Freeview than on normal terrestrial television. You still receive your five normal channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5) but there are lots of other channels that are good value for your money (especially for one low, one-off payment!) as well as some that aren't so useful or entertaining - but that will depend on the viewers tastes of course. It is fair to say that with the channels available on Freeview, there should very well be something for everyone.
BBC1 - On air 24 hours a day, this is exactly the same as you would find on regular terrestrial television.
BBC2 - On air 24 hours a day, this is exactly the same as you would find on regular terrestrial television.
ITV1 - On air 24 hours a day, this is exactly the same as you would find on regular terrestrial television.
CHANNEL 4 - On air 24 hours a day, this is exactly the same as you would find on regular terrestrial television.
CHANNEL FIVE - On air 24 hours a day, this is exactly the same as you would find on regular terrestrial television.
Now for the channels that aren't on regular terrestrial television!
BBC Three - On air from 7pm - 4am. This channel has lots of great programmes on it from all sorts of comedy such as Little Britain and The Mighty Boosh (who I don't find funny… can anyone explain their appeal?!?) as well as lots of great drama, news, current affairs, music, arts and much, much more.
Sometimes, BBC Three shows the next episode of a series (e.g. Heroes) right after the previous episode being shown on either BBC One or BBC Two.
BBC Four - On air from 7pm - 4am. This channel is more cultured than BBC Three with a great mix of culture, arts, world cinema, science, history, business and current affairs.
ITV2 - On air from 9:25am - 6am. This channel has lots of entertainment, drama, comedy and movies. You often get repeats of big ITV1 shows such as X Factor which can be useful for those who have missed the programme on its first airing.
ITV3 - On air from 6am - 5am. This channel focuses mainly on drama. There is a fantastic mix of classic and contemporary dramas, movies and much more. Some if the classic dramas that are aired on ITV3 include the likes of Inspector Morse, Poirot, Prime Suspect and Quantum Leap.
ITV4 - On air from 6pm - 6am. This channel is aimed mostly at men (which I didn't actually know until now!) with drama, comedy, movies and live sports.
ITV2+1 - On air from 10:25am - 7am. This channel is ITV2 running one hour behind the normal ITV2.
E4 - On air 24 hours a day. This is the sister channel to Channel 4 and specialises in comedy and drama. With series such as Lost, E4 show the following weeks episode right after the Channel 4 episode for those who can't wait a whole week for their next hit.
E4+1 - On air 24 hours a day but runs an hour behind the regular E4 channel.
More 4 - On air from 10:30am - 1:30am. This is Channel 4's "TV channel for grown ups". It features comedy, documentaries and other popular programmes - such as a repeat of Deal Or No Deal? shown earlier on Channel 4.
Channel 4+1 - On air 24 hours a day but runs an hour behind the regular Channel 4.
Sky three - On air 24 hours a day. This channel was formerly called Sky Travel and now features lots of excellent drama, travel documentaries and other great lifestyle shows.
UKtv History - On air from 7am - 6pm. This channel as you would expect from its name specialises in historical documentaries.
Virgin 1 - On air from 6pm - 6am. This channel has lots of great drama, comedy and movies.
Nuts TV - On air from 9pm - 1am. The entertainment channel for men from the magazine of the same name. Covering topics such as sport, cars, music, comedy and much more.
Dave - On air from 7am - 3am. This bizarrely named channel is the new UKTV entertainment channel that features lots of very popular series such as QI, Top Gear, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, The Catherine Tate Show and Bottom.
Film 4 - On air from 3pm - 3am. Film 4 shows a wide selection of movies. The only drawback is that the films are broken up by adverts - however Film 4 used to be a subscription channel - so the fact that it's now free is great news for film buffs everywhere!
Five Life - On air from 6am - 11pm. This channel features lots of great entertainment shows and documentaries.
Five US - On air from 4pm - 1am. This channel features some of the best entertainment from America. Some of the great programmes shown on this channel include House, CSI Las Vegas, CSI Miami, CSI New York and classics such as Happy Days. There is also American sport in the form of NFL American Football and NBA basketball.
CBEEBIES - On air from 6am - 7pm. CBeebies is aimed for preschool aged children. It features lots of popular children's programmes and interactive services to encourage learning in small children. Having a four month old baby with my partner Kate, I guess we have all of this good stuff to look forward to! Help!!!
CBBC - On air from 7am - 7pm. CBBC offers drama, entertainment and news etc aimed at children aged between 6 - 12.
CITV - On air from 6am - 6pm. CITV is aimed at children between the ages of preschool to nine year old. It features a variety of drama, factual, preschool, entertainment, comedy and animation.
Not the area that I watch but always end up flying through whenever I go channel hopping. These include the following channels:
Community Channel - On air between 6am - 9am. I've never spotted this channel but it's there according to the freeview website - so who am I to question that? It's apparently a channel that deals with community. I know very little about this channel - so don't know whether or not this is actually localised to your own area.
Teachers TV - On air between 4pm - 5pm. This is a channel dedicated to those who work within schools. There are short programmes shown that relate to most subjects that are taught.
And now the inevitable dull as dish-water channels! Why?!?
Ideal World - On air 24 hours a day. A shopping channel that offers fashion goods, jewellery, gardening tools, housewares, health & beauty and much more (apparently)…
QVC - On air 24 hours a day. The UK's leading shopping channel selling all sorts of stuff you probably shouldn't want to buy!
Price Drop TV - On air between 8am - 1am. This channel sells items of a limited number - the price dropping until the item is sold out. The good thing (if there is one)? Every buyer pays the lowest, closing price on the item sold. Yay.
Bid TV - On air between 1am - 8am. This channel hosts interactive auctions. Okay… NEXT!!!
Gems TV - On air between 9:45am - 12:45pm. This channel sells gem stones and gemstone jewellery. Yawn.
The Jewellery Channel - On air between 6pm and 9pm. You'll never guess what this channel sells…
Right… That's the shopping channels dealt with! Which is the bigger question: Who actually watches / buys anything from these channels? Or: Just where the hell do they find the vacant, lobotomy candidates to babble utter shite about the dross they sell?!?
Anyhoo… On to channels that actually are interesting and useful (though a more than a little depressing at times)…
BBC News 24 - On air 24 hours a day. Up to the minute, breaking news from the BBC news centre.
BBC Parliament - On air 24 hours a day. Unedited coverage of the House of Commons, House of Lords and Westminster. Good God!!! Come back QVC!!! All is forgiven. I agree with what Billy Connolly once said: "The desire to become a politician should ban you for life from ever being one!"… Well said that man!!!
Sky News - On air 24 hours a day. Up to the minute and breaking news courtesy of Rupert Murdoch and his unbiased media empire… What do you mean my nose is growing?!? Sod off!!!
Sky Sports News - On air 24 hours a day. Up to the minute and breaking news from the world of sport. World Of Sport? That was Dickie Davis… Wasn't it?!?
The Hits - On air 24 hours a day. The biggest and best names in music can be found here (and Britney Spears) 24 hours a day. Yes Sir!!!
TMF - On air 24 hours a day. TMF (or The Music Factory to those in the know… like moi) plays all sorts of music to cater for most tastes. It also includes the likes of themed weekends, movies and much more!!!
Speaking of things music related, I almost forgot to mention that freeview also includes digital radio channels that you can listen to (handy if you haven't got a DAB digital radio - and even handy if you do!). The list of radio stations available include some of the biggest and best - as well as other digital ones.
Here's a brief list of channels available:
BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 1 Xtra, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports, BBC Radio 6 music, BBC Radio 7, BBC World Service, Heat, Kerrang!, Kiss, Smooth Radio, The Hits, Virgin, Heart, Real Radio and many others!!!
The radio function is great but I often find it to be a bit wasteful of energy to have your TV turned on just to listen to the radio. Some radio stations offer onscreen information about the name of the show and DJ on as well as the name of the song and artist currently playing. That's all fine and well but possibly superfluous all in all. If you have a sound system hooked up to your AV equipment, why not just play the radio through the speakers and turn off the TV. Go on, go on, GO ON!!! BE GREEN!!!
MY TYPICALLY LONG-OVERDUE CONCLUSION
I know those of you who have actually braved reading the above drivel and are miraculously still awake to tell the tale having been asking of me throughout: "Yes!!! This Freeview malarkey has QVC so I'm sorted… but… IS IT ANY GOOD AND DO YOU RECOMMEND IT?!?"
To cut a short story long (as is my want)… Do I recommended it? You betcha! It's generally a win, win situation. You buy the box cheap as chips and as long as your area supports the freeview signal, you're laughing! Digital television (minus the really good subscription channels unless you buy a Top Up TV box) at a great price! What's not to like?!?
Huh - that's pretty much everything I'm getting with Virgin... but not for free! I might be switching back soon, thanks :)
Chouchinciao 14.02.2008 14:32
Hear, hear. Who needs Sky subscriptions?
RICHADA 02.02.2008 20:24
A comprehensive run through the channels on Freeview there. We thought (and were told on the post codechecker) for many years that our area was not covered by Freeview. We bought a cheap box in ASDA, hitched it up to the TV and hey presto perfect picture! We now have a hard drive recorder with it built in which is very useful. Richard.