We've had an overwhelming response from Pocket-lint readers after yesterday's 30 September Freeview retune did not go according to plan. Millions of people across the UK took to their set-top boxes for the channel migration and it was well known that many thousands would lose access to ITV3 and ITV4 and that a handful with a very limited number of specific pieces of hardware would also retune to nothing whatsoever. However, despite an excellent pre-retune information campaign and judging by the crashing of the Freeview website, the overloading of the retune helpline and cries for help, not just on our pages but all over the Internet, it has not gone according to plan.
Pocket-lint has tried to contact Freeview but no one has come forward to speak and tell the public what is going on. The only message that we have received is that, from Freeview's end, the transfer of the channels has gone smoothly and that the migration is complete. For users up and down the country commenting on Pocket-lint, though, it seems a very different story:
"Have tried again and again to retune both last night and this morning, still to no avail. The helpline number has been reduced to inane instructions - I know how to retune, pity that Freeview doesn't! It's still getting stuck halfway through the retune scan and I'm still missing the vast majority of channels. Can't wait for round two of this nonsense when analogue gets switched off!!! Anyone know where else to get information?" Posted by Claire Shepherd, NI
"I have lost ITV ITV3 5 and probably more. Rubbish idea by someone to force us to re-tune when we will have to change for complete digital soon. I gave up in the end and now have to switch to analogue for the missing stations of ITV and Five. Posted by Sarah, Washington, Tyne & Wear, England
"My god i feel like im going mad, I've also lost itv2 and lots more. I also phoned up and all the lady could say was "what do you want me to do about it", and that people will just have to wait till it comes back. Friendly or what? Posted by hayley, suffolk, England
"I live in Bayswater and am using inbuilt freeview (opposed to a separate box), and we seem to have lost ITV2+1 E4 and Sky (which was 82). Is anyone else having these problems?? THIS IS SO STUPID AND FRUSTRATING!!" Posted by LC, UK
There also appears to have been interference of the new signals in Northern Ireland by neighbouring transmissions from the Republic of Ireland which could even be something far more permanent:
"Retuned my Pace PVR - but got RTE1, RTE2, TV3,and TG4 on positions 1-4 instead of the usual BBC etc - however cannot see pictures as they are the wrong mpeg version - why are Irish channels interferring with our Freeview? Signals come from the Limavady Transmitter. (My Sony TV retuned perfectly and I get all available channels) Posted by Alan, Northern Ireland
Moving the whole nation's radio and TV channels was never going to be a hitch-free procedure. There are simply too many households and too many variables, but the helpline set up by Freeview has not been able to cope with the case-by-case complaints nor the volume of calls. The worst part is that it's a national rate number. According to the Telegraph, the helpline received 200 calls a minute yesterday. If that continued for even a few hours, that's potentially thousands of pounds of the public's money to the phone line of a not for profit organisation.
There is still no advice available from Freeview beyond calling the helpline or going to the retune website, while many round the country still struggle. As one Pocket-lint reader quite succinctly put it, "Is this a conspiracy to get us all to buy Sky?"
UPDATE: The official Freeview response has come in. Here it is in full:
1) Are there still any problems from Freeview's end or has the transfer 100% completed?
There were no problems with the upgrade to the Freeview service, which was completed on schedule, and viewers were advised to retune from lunchtime onwards. Earlier in the day, the TV retune website experienced a high volume of traffic but continued to provide retuning information throughout the day - at times using an overspill page which included a basic retuning guide.
2) There seem to be a number of people who do not have the problem equipment as listed on the Freeview site but have either lost more channels than they should have or continue to be unable to receive anything at all. Do you know why this might be and is there any chance that it is nothing to do with their set up at home; problems with transmitters etc
Viewers are advised to perform a full retune, sometimes called a 'first time installation' or 'factory reset', in order to pick up all available channels in their area. It is rare for people to lose channels but sometimes a second (or third) retune may be required to resolve these issues. They should also check all cables and connections are secure. If, after this, viewers are still missing channels, we would recommend they contact the manufacturer. All signals are broadcasting as expected.
3) What advice can you give to people who have followed all the steps as laid out on the Freeview site but are still experiencing problems?
It is difficult to provide specific advice without more details, such as the make and model of equipment, but if viewers have performed a full retune more than once and are still experiencing problems we would advise contacting their manufacturer or retailer.
4) It's obviously a very large operation to migrate all the channels and make sure the public retunes. Did you expect there to be as many problems as there has been?
Again, there were no problems with the upgrade to the service. Experience shows that the majority of people find retuning straightforward, but some viewers do need a little extra advice. Help with retuning is available on the tvretune.co.uk website and via a helpline on 08456 051122. Viewers can also get advice on retuning from family and friends or their local retailer.
5) Many people have been getting an automated message on the help line which doesn't seem to help in many cases. Will you be setting up a problem solving line for case by case situations?
At peak times yesterday, a team of more than 300 advisors, backed up by recorded retune instructions, were helping several hundred callers a minute. We would recommend that viewers with specific equipment issues contact the manufacturer or retailer.