Icomb Hill, Guiting Power and Over Norton BBC region change
Brian Butterworth published on UK Free TV
A minor part of the switchover programme which comes to Gloucestershire in the next week.
It is difficult for the BBC to have relay stations which are fed from different regions for ITV and so the BBC has a programme to harmonise those relays.
BBC English Regions were consulted about this a while ago and have agreed to the changes but the BBC are only now making the changes as we get close to switchover.
From Tuesday, 15th February, the transmitters at Icomb Hill and Guiting Power which have previous been fed by Sutton Coldfield (BBC West Midlands) for us will start to use Oxford (BBC Oxford) as their parent.
Then on Thursday, 17th February, the transmitter at Over Norton will make the same change, so by the end of next week viewers to all three of these will be watching Oxford local news, rather than West Midlands.
Between them, the three stations serve just under 6,000 people.
9:59 AM Cheltenham
I'd be grateful if you could explain the absence of any ArqB stations (Film4, ITV4 etc) from the Icomb Hill transmitter. The Freeview coverage checker for my postcode doesn't mention them and my Freeview box cannot find them.
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Tony: This is the two-tier terrestrial television transmitter network we now have, I'm afraid.
Icomb Hill only carries the Public Service Broadcaster (PSB) multiplexes (groups of services).
Those that it doesn't broadcast are the Commercial (COM) multiplexes and these carry the likes of ITV3, ITV4, Pick TV, Yesterday, Film 4 and Dave.
The COMs broadcast from 81 of the largest transmitters (largest by viewer population) and cover about 90% of the population. The other 1,000 or so relays, including Icomb Hill, are PSB-only. The cost to the COMs of including the relays in their portfolio would roughly double their cost of transmission whilst only adding about 8.5% of the population to their potential viewer-base.
As they are run entirely as profit-making ventures and have no "Public Service" obligation, they decided to turn down the offer of additional coverage.
See here for a further explanation:
Will there ever be more services on the Freeview Light transmitters? | ukfree.tv - independent free digital TV advice
In some cases reception of COMs can be achieved from a station that carries them. Obviously this requires a new aerial and in some cases due to poor signal, a big aerial and sometimes big mast.
Failing that, the main option to get more channels is Freesat. There are some channels like Yesterday and Dave that are on full Freeview (COM) but not Freesat.
It's a common question and I believe that "Freeview Lite" has got to be the biggest let-down, particularly as mention of this inferior service doesn't feature in any of advertising. "Subject to coverage" fails to make clear that not all channels are available in all areas.
The predictor does think that reception from Mendip "may" be possible in your post code. This does carry the COMs, although it has West regional BBC and ITV.
If you can receive the COMs from Mendip, then it would be theoretically possible to have two aerials and combine them (using a diplexer) into one downlead.
I put your post code into Google and the first house showed on Streetview (presumably at the centre of the code) has a Mendip aerial and an Icomb Hill one (photo taken in December 2009): GL54 2PN - Google Maps
Its height and size might be an indication of the sort of thing you will need. Obviously levels of reception can vary widely over a post code area and particularly so where the ground and surrounding ground isn't flat.
I understand that some receivers that have recording functions don't fair too well when receiving signals from more than one transmitter (scheduled recordings not starting). One way around this, if it proves to be the case, is to watch Mendip most of the time and switch to Icomb Hill for regional programming. For example, put BBC One from Icomb Hill on 800 and ITV1 Central from Icomb Hill on 801. Under such circumstances it might not be possible to reliably record from 800 and 801. This final paragraph is just a warning; it's what I've read.
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