Sky to swap HD and SD channel numbers
By Julian Clover
Published: December 9, 2010 11.19 Europe/London

Sky is to launch a separate EPG numbering system for channels broadcasting both SD and HD versions. From February 1, 2011 the satcaster will run both its “Standard Bouquet” and the new “HD Swap Bouquet”. It means that channels with an HD simulcast that has been allocated a number further down the guide will be able to take the slot held by the SD counterpart, but only in HD homes, putting an end to the sometimes confusing dual numbering and viewers inadvertently watching an SD channel when an HD version is available.

For example Sky 1 is currently listed at channel number 106 while Sky 1 HD can be found much lower down at 170. However, in the HD Swap Bouquet, Sky1 HD will be listed at channel number 106 and Sky1 will be listed at channel number 170.

The HD Swap Bouquet will be made available to residential customers and retail premises with a subscription to one or more high definition channels.

A number of channels will be entitled to opt-out of the HD Channel Swap. These include those with regional variations – such as the recently launched BBC One HD which broadcasts a holder slide when the local news is broadcast – though there may be decisions ahead for ITV1 that has a limited number of regional variations to its HD channel.

Sky says it is “currently minded” to implement the swap for relevant Nations for any National Variants where the HD and SD versions are exact simulcasts in respect of such Nation.

All broadcasters will be entitled to opt out of the system prior to the initial swap and will need to notify Sky before the swap is made.

The two listings systems will run in parallel prior to the official swap date.