BBC to reduce Red Button Freeview service

UK public broadcaster the BBC will switch off two of the three interactive streams it uses on Freeview as part of plans to launch HD channels on the DTT platform.

From October 27, viewers will no longer have access to the BBC News Multiscreen service. There will also be fewer repeats of other content including sports and music.

One of the multiplexes operated by the BBC will be used to transmit high-definition services, starting this December in the Granada and London regions. HD Freeview set-tops will go on sale from early 2010. Full red button interactivity will remain available on other platforms and the BBC said interactive coverage of big events such as the Wimbledon tennis tournament and Glastonbury music festival will remain on Freeview.

The decision is likely to infuriate regular users of the BBC’s interactive services who will feel they are getting a poorer service to benefit the few viewers, initially only in London and the Granada region, that have HD-enabled TVs.