A few years ago, I wrote about getting free to air digital TV from Sky. At that time, FreeSat was a relatively unknown service and I was trying to avoid the cost of an aerial upgrade (antenna for those of you reading this outside the UK) but, at the end of last week, my Sky box developed an intermittent sound problem and became unwatchable (on top of the frequent need to reboot before it will pick up Channel 4), leaving us with two poorly children and no CBeebies!
For most people, CBeebies is of no significance but is you have children between 2 and 5 (I have two that age), it may be considered vital! Luckily, I have my Mac Mini hooked up to the TV, so I streamed CBeebies directly from the web for Saturday’s early morning shift but, as the rest of the street woke up and went online, we saw more and more buffering and it’s hard to explain to little people why their favourite CBeebies programmes keep on stopping!
It was clear that I needed to do something about the TV signal. As part of the UK’s digital switchover, analogue TV is due to be switched off in my region in 2011 and the signal has already deteriorated to the point that it’s virtually unwatchable so digital is the only real choice. I could get another satellite decoder but, a little while back, the existing one was automatically upgraded to use Sky’s auto standby functionality (great if you’re looking to save power, not great if you’ve set the video to record from the satellite signal and meanwhile the Sky box goes into standby…) so we decided to bite the bullet and switch to digital terrestrial (Freeview). I picked up a nice little Philips DTR220/05 set top box from John Lewis and the (extremely easy) setup meant that within minutes I had it set up to pick up almost every channel, except those in multiplex B. After a bit of googling I found that’s because the local TV transmitter (Sandy Heath) transmits this signal on channel 67 – right at the edge of the frequency range, and the existing (loft mounted) aerial wasn’t up to the job (not really surprising as, even though I live on the top of a hill, the signal has to pass through three brick/block walls and an electricity substation).
So, this morning, the my local aerial installation company visited to fit a nice new digital TV aerial to my chimney stack, after which the CBeebies TV signal was restored (along with several other channels of less significance). And, because there are a few channel differences between FreeSat from Sky and FreeView, I can even watch Dave now (which I’m sure will not impress Mrs. W)!