Channel 5 HD is finally coming to Freeview’s set of HD channels and it’s about time, although it’s taken an awful lot of time to get to this point.
The lack of such a channel is also a self-inflicted issue which just compounds the fact that this channel has been behind the curve for the entireity of its broadcasting life. Channel 5 have inexplicably refused twice before to launch an HD Freeview channel, and it’s only now, since Viacom took over, that they’ve applied for the licence and it has been granted.
Given that BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel 4 have had Freeview HD channels for many years, why would Channel 5 want to remain so stuck in the past? It’s not like they’ve had a lack of HD content since they’ve broadcast this way on Sky and Virgin since July 2010, and their backwards thinking meant that HD has only ever been available as a subscription service before now.
However, you can blame a lot of things on the ever-changing management of this TV station. They launched with a DOG (digitally-originated graphic), i.e. a logo, which doesn’t so much sit in the corner of the screen but instead floats towards the centre. A change of management led to it disappearing for a prolonged period between 2002 and 2007, at which point it had also changed in name from ‘Channel 5’ to ‘Five’, but then some other pillock comes along and brings it back(!) This happens because the people who run the marketing for broadcasters are often people who used to advertise products for you to buy in shops, and think that if Nike putting their logo on a pair of trainers is a good idea, then let’s do the same for TV channels. They think it helps you “navigate” (horrible marketingspeak) towards their channel, but the EPG tells you what channel you’re watching before the picture comes up anyway, and if you need a logo onscreen to tell you what channel you’re watching then you need to seek medical help.
BBC1 and BBC2 eventually realised the futility of logos on their main channels, despite retaining them on BBC3 and BBC4, the latter of which is aimed at viewers with some intelligence, while Channel 4 have a DOG only on their HD channel, which is huge and annoying and unnecessary.
Someone else who needs to seek medical help is the person at ITV who, after 57 years without one, they also introduced a DOG. And, like Channel 5, they rarely show 2.35:1 films in their correct widescreen ratio, and neither group of channels broadcast anything in Dolby Digital 5.1, unlike BBC1, BBC2 and Channel 4. As well as movies, sci-fi programmes benefit greatly from such aural treats, so a programme like the return of The X-Files is only delivering half the goods.
As for the programmes on Channel 5, the only one I watch semi-regularly is The Wright Stuff, despite it being a pale shadow of its former self, but the majority of the rest of its output – and despite the Viacom takeover – is that the schedule is still littered with programmes about people on benefits or cheap telly such as Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away! I’m hoping such programmes are only as a result of the previous management (Television X owner Richard Desmond) and that things will improve. Then again, they’re still keeping Big Brother….
Channel 5 HD will launch at a date still to be confirmed.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.