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Main Content Last Revised  Tu 2-Dec-98

In February 1997 there were only four UK networks. With a fifth channel about to launch, I made a film to mouth off about the fact that in order to get a watchable picture from the new channel I had to fork out for a new aerial. As part of the item, I interviewed Channel 5's Chief Operating Officer, whose first words to me were, "Hello, I've read your web pages."

Thanks to Sean Hughes for the images.

From Right 2 Reply shown on C4 on Sa 8-Feb-97 at 18:30 and on both C4 and S4C on Mo 10-Feb-97 at 12:00
Copyright © 1997 Channel 4 Television Corporation.


TEASE Channel 5 is a national service and it's free.

But will you be able to see it where you are?

And if so, how much will it really cost to get a good picture?



Roger Bolton


This week the newspapers have been full of stories about the future of digital television, which is just around the corner. Which corner is never made clear. However, Channel 5, the last of Britain's terrestrial channels, will definitely be launched at Easter. Although Five will be free, not all viewers will be able to receive its pictures. Andrew Wiseman is one Right 2 Reply viewer who was hoping to tune in to the new channel but now thinks he'll have to fork out for a new aerial.
Opening piece to camera. Back in October on Right 2 Reply, a viewer tried to find out all about the new programmes that will be coming up on Channel 5. Also last year, I set up a web site on the internet to try and find out all about our new channel. It's Me!
Includes shot from behind showing Andrew flicking through channels, demonstrating clear pictures from other channels before reaching Channel 5. Now you might not care about Channel 5, but the chances are, if you live in a re-tuning area, you won't be able to ignore it. Already during test transmissions, viewers are reporting that they can't watch their videos anymore.

So with the launch of Channel 5 only weeks away on Easter Sunday, perhaps it's time for an update.

Voiceover On its launch date,
26% of Britain will
NOT be able to
receive Channel 5.
Includes outside shots of Channel 5 advertising hoardings. Channel 5 has clearly stated that around 9 million homes in various areas of the country will need re-tuning to avoid interference.

But what they haven't mentioned is that even if you have been re-tuned, there's still no guarantee you'll get a good picture.

Andrew makes the tea and settles down to watch Channel 5. My video doesn't need a visit from the re-tuners because my area's not a re-tuning area.

And now my local transmitter is broadcasting test transmissions.

Making the tea
Camera pulls out from TV screen. Andrew is seen in reflection. As you can see, the picture is grainy to say the least.

And that's because the Channel 5 signal is one hundred times weaker than the signals from the other four channels.

C5 on reflection
Camera pulls out from C5 web page.

Torch is shone at camera.

Fade to white as lamp is shone at camera.

I did learn something from Channel 5's web site. My transmitter at Sandy Heath is firing on 10 kilowatts. They don't mention however that BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are on a 1000 kilowatts for the same area from the same transmitter. That's like comparing this torch with this lamp. PC2
Back in the living room. Now there is something I can do about my reception.
Tim Jenks
Technical Executive,

The frequency allotted to Channel 5 is a lot lower in signal than the four existing ones, so what is going to have to happen there is the Channel 5 signal will have to be lifted by means of an amplifier, but also filtered so we don't amplify the other four channels.

Andrew It's all so simple isn't it? And it's only going to cost me, so I'm told, a hundred pounds.
Tim Jenks If everybody wants to watch Channel 5, we estimate, based on figures the ITC gave us, that around three million households would have to invest in upgrading their aerial.
Andrew leans purposefully in to shot (!) Why haven't Channel 5 been clear about this from the start?
Ian Ritchie
Chief Operations Officer, Channel 5

The key thing is that we want to remove interference first as a problem, and that's what the re-tuning exercise is fundamentally about. But equally in our call centre we do make clear to people about reception, what may need to happen with aerials. And yes, you're absolutely right, there are a number of people who may need new aerials.

Interrogating Ian Ritchie (9K)
Andrew How much is this extra equipment going to cost?
Ian Ritchie Well again, the quality of aerial that you have to buy, whether it's a question of sticking it up a further piece of scaffolding or whether it's actually buying a different aerial, can range from anything, as I understand it, from sort of £50 to £150, in terms of the cost of the equipment.
Closing piece to camera. Precise details of the Channel 5 programme schedule have yet to be confirmed. But I can only hope that the quality of the programmes will be better than the quality of the pictures.
Roger Bolton


Amen to all that…

Other Right to Reply pages at this site...

Full Contents Channel 5 Preview Channel 5 Reception PDC Widescreen DOGs Branding Future TV

625 TV Logos Programme Delivery Control Explained Public Information Films Channel 5 Invasion of the Web Snatchers Digital TV - Beyond the Hype
TV Room TV Logos PDC
PIFs Channel 5 Web
Digital TV


625: Andrew Wiseman's Television Room (2K)