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Sky TV Closes Down SD Channels on Older UK Set Top Boxes

Thursday, May 30th, 2024 (7:45 am) - Score 3,360
Sky-Glass-TV-Set

Time to upgrade. Customers of Sky UK’s older TV services and devices, specifically those that can only support the viewing of Standard Definition (SD) channels, are being given a last ditch encouragement to upgrade their set-top-boxes (STB) before they “lose access to all Sky channels” – starting from June 2024.

The change reflects the fact that Sky is in the process of “changing how we deliver our TV services“, which in technical terms means they’re changing the Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) method to DVB-S2 (second generation) – something many older SD-only boxes can’t receive (these only support the DVB-S transponder). “This means if you have an SD box, you’ll need to upgrade to continue watching Sky channels,” said Sky.

Due to this, the company and other broadcasters (e.g. BBC) on Sky’s platform have been gradually switching off their SD channels and focusing on HD (High Definition) supporting STBs and channels. The next big phase of this transition happened yesterday, when Sky switched-off 14 of its own Sky Sports and Sky Cinema + MUTV channels (this excludes, for now, Sky Sports News SD and Sky Sports Mix SD – due to being part of another paid ‘Signature’ bundle).

The final stage of this transition is due to start from June and run until August 2024, which the company says means “you’ll start to lose access to all Sky channels“, unless you upgrade. “Without the upgrade, any subscriptions you have to these channels will be cancelled,” said Sky.

The Affected STBs:

Digibox

➤ 4F01 to 4F08 (Amstrad)
➤ 4E01 to 4E05 (Grundig)
➤ 9F01 to 9F08 and 9F0A (Pace)
➤ 0F01 to 0F05 (Panasonic)
➤ 4E06 to 4E08 (Thomson)

Sky+

➤ 4F2001 to 4F2006 (Amstrad)
➤ 4F2101 to 4F2118 and 9F2101 to 9F2137 (Amstrad or Pace)
➤ 9F2001 to 9F2024, PVR2, 9F2201 to 9F2235, 9F2301 to 9F2339 (Pace)
➤ 4E2101 to 4E2141 (Thomson)

Customers of Sky TV are thus being encouraged to upgrade their STB to the more modern Sky Q platform “at no extra cost” (you can upgrade online or call 0333 759 5121). The new box will be installed by one of Sky’s engineers on a date selected by the customer, thus it’s wise to do this ASAP to avoid being caught out. Customers that upgrade can then access all of the Sky channels in their Sky TV package, again.

However, Sky will continue to offer some channels in SD, such as those that cost extra if you want to view them in HD (e.g. Sky Atlantic and Sky Showcase). But some of these channels may, in the future, only be receivable via a more modern HD-capable STB. Still, we can’t help but feel that, in an age where 4K (UltraHD) TVs are now common, paying extra for HD channels on any service has become a bit ridiculous.

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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
17 Responses
  1. Avatar photo MissTuned says:

    Don’t some of these “Digiboxes” date back to the late 1990s? I’d be amazed if there are any still in operation, especially the Amstrads.

    1. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      in theory yes – they probably haven’t had a software update for over a decade but anyone who still uses one can continue to do so (for now).

      The dam finally broke when the BBC turned off its SD channels earlier this year. I’d be concerned if there are people who haven’t noticed that and are still paying for a Sky sub.

      For a while you could buy a cheap HD box from cash converters or ebay or whatever and use it with the SD (and free to air HD) channels, without paying the extra tenner a month for HD. I think Sky now won’t let you switch boxes to anything except Q though.

      There are probably a lot of boxes in pubs and hotels and TV distribution systems that no one’s thought to replace.

    2. Avatar photo Mark says:

      My mum still has a Panasonic digi box from the 1990s going strong. It will be replaced soon I think as channels have started to vanish!

    3. Avatar photo Dave says:

      You’d be amazed, I work in a lot of properties and often see customers navigating through the 20 odd year old Sky menus.

  2. Avatar photo GDS says:

    I’ve seen a few businesses who still have the old style EPG (the one that used to have xmas music playing in December and without a live preview), so guessing they still have very old boxes (pubs, sports clubs etc)

  3. Avatar photo jammie1408 says:

    Probably 480p channel quality and sticking with 720 and 1080 quality.

    1. Avatar photo Bob says:

      No. 480p has never been used for linear broadcast.

  4. Avatar photo Q says:

    No mention of swapping to “Stream” ? If their goal is to wind down “Q” in favour of “Stream” putting more “Q” boxes out there isn’t helping.

    1. Avatar photo tech3475 says:

      Maybe they’re trying to keep things relatively simple? Engineer shows up, installs any hardware, pairs the card, that’s it (in theory).

      With Stream, you’re probably looking at dealing with new contracts, maybe extra charges (e.g. skip adverts), broadband bandwidth requirements, etc.

      Not saying this will be seamless for everyone and there probably will be some headaches e.g. no internet at all, but I can speculate that it makes sense on at least some level whilst Q still exists.

    2. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      I’d imagine it’s both that (no guarantee that the customer has broadband, or of sufficient speed for streaming) and the fact that Sky will have a pile of Q boxes that need shifting and this gets them earning money while giving customers a drastically better user experience.

      Does Q *need* internet to function even if you don’t want to stream or multiroom? I’ve never had it. The HD boxes didn’t require it but benefited from it.

  5. Avatar photo Malarky says:

    Anyone else got Sky Q and are being charged an extra £9 a month for the HD channels ?

    1. Avatar photo q says:

      Yes to the £9 a month. Thinking that if they aren’t available in SD…………………….

    2. Avatar photo Barney says:

      Yes. I was fascinated when negotiating my last Sky renewal all their unnecessary add-ons. I’m surprised they didn’t charge extra for Teletext and Colour TV. Feel sorry for the sales staff at Sky.

    3. Avatar photo T says:

      Yeah I find this ridiculous that in 2024 we are still being charged extra to watch TV in HD! It should be included as standard especially as SD is being phased out.

    4. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      But isn’t that the business market that a lot have been pining for? Where you only pay for what you consume. Therefore, suck it up and pay up! You can always choose to not subscribe unlike other broadcasters is the excuse given…..

  6. Avatar photo MilesT says:

    Does this affect FreeSat as well?

    Is there an “industry” website where you can look up an existing FreeSat box to see if it is still compatible?

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      Ultimately yes. Many free to air either will disappear as Freely gets more popular, or the SD services removed. It’s already started there with terrestrial TV that was on Freesat.

      Remember on July 1st 2024, Channel 4 will close down on ALL services several music channels: 4Music, The Box, Kerrang, Kiss and Magic TV as part of it’s commercial review and these channels are deemed to not return enough profit now, in world of streaming. The Box started in 1992 as a regionalised service on cable where you had to phone in a premium telephone number to request a music video that eventually got played. Channel 4 took over the stations from Bauer Media after initial partnership.

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