Freeview upgrade switches off boxes

An estimated quarter of a million Freeview receivers have found their units have stopped working after they were disabled by a network upgrade designed to cope with successive increases in the number of channels on the UK DTT system.

The splitting of the Network Information Tables, needed to handle the amount of extra data on the Freeview system, caused the problem. There are now a total of 48 TV services and 25 radio channels broadcast on UK DTT.

“We appreciate the frustration of viewers, it’s a minority who have been affected by these enhancements. DMOL - the company that runs the engineering behind Freeview - completed the technical changes for the UK last week and to date we’ve received a total of 1,200 calls,” said Rob Farmer, Freeview Marketing & Communications Director. “The boxes affected were manufactured four to five years ago and are pre-digital tick.” The remote upgrade began in May and was completed on August 5.

The affected boxes, manufactured by Daewoo, Labgear, Triax, Portland and Bush were launched before the Digital Tick scheme was put in place in May 2006. The volume of calls suggests the actual number of affected homes may be less than the estimate; itself representing less than 1% of the installed base.

The UK retail trade has been alerted to the potential problems with the receivers and the digital switchover itself that can be expected to knock out the remaining ITV Digital set-top boxes and early personal video recorders.