Some Sky TV and Freesat viewers will lose access to ITV channels next month

a hand holds a tv remote control with a blurred background of tv show previews in the background

If you own an older Sky+, Sky Digibox, or Freesat set-top box, then you could lose access to three ITV channels in the coming weeks

Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 05/12/2023

- 12:35

Updated: 05/12/2023

- 12:48

ITV will switch off three channels in January for those who can't tune into HD broadcasts

  • Viewers have until January 9, 2024 to switch to HD-compatible kit
  • Freeview and Virgin Media users are not impacted by the switch
  • Only older Sky and Freesat boxes will stop receiving ITV in early 2024
  • Sky will upgrade customers on incompatible hardware for free

ITV is shuttering its Standard Definition (SD) channels on Sky and Freesat, with the switchover beginning next month. The major shake-up will improve the viewing experience for millions of people across the UK, with High Definition (HD) broadcasts available in all corners of the UK for the first time.

However, those with ageing set-top boxes from Sky TV and Freesat will need to upgrade to newer hardware ...or lose access to the popular ITV channels, including ITV3, ITV4, and ITVBe. Key parts of the ITV1 schedule will also stop working.

ITV1 has been available in HD for some time, but the lower-quality Standard Definition version of the channel was kept alive because some regional programming — like local news and weather bulletins — was not yet available in the higher-fidelity format. ITV has confirmed plans to upgrade all remaining areas stuck with SD local broadcasts to HD.

That clears the way to finally scrap the non-HD version of ITV1 (and other ITV channels with similar issues holding them back) completely from TV Guides nationwide.

If that sounds familiar, it's likely because the BBC is going through an almost identical process. The Beeb is upgrading local news and weather shows to High Definition (HD) in preparation for its deadline of January 2024 to remove all Standard Definition (SD) channels from satellite boxes across the UK.

As for ITV, the commercial channel says it will complete its nationwide HD roll-out by December 12, 2023. The last regions to enjoy the upgrade to improved picture quality and sound will be Channel, Border Scotland, UTV and Wales Regions.

But things won't really change until January 9, 2024. That's the date when ITV will cease broadcasting a number of its popular channels in SD for the first time. The shake-up will impact those watching on Sky and Freesat with older Standard Definition-only boxes.

If that's you, starting from 12.01am on January 9, you'll lose access to ITV3, ITV4, and ITVBe. The only way to tune into these channels will be to switch from your current kit to an HD-compatible receiver.

ITV1 will remain available after this deadline on SD-only set-top boxes. However, whenever the channels cuts to regional news — you'll lose all picture and sound from the broadcast, since these will be HD-only.

ITV has not confirmed when SD-only ITV1 will be removed, but it's likely to follow sometime next year.

In a blog post about the upgrades, ITV wrote: "Here at ITV, we are making some major improvements to complete our upgrade to all-HD on satellite for ITV1 bringing all the ITV regions and sub-regions which haven’t yet upgraded into HD."

Adding: "For anyone reading this who may still be watching us on satellite on standard definition — SD — you will soon need to upgrade to a high definition HD satellite receiver if you don't already have one. The HD only change will happen in January 2024, and you can upgrade your box by contacting your provider. It is easy to do and should take no more than two weeks.

"Around 98% of digital satellite homes across Sky and Freesat are already receiving HD channels, but if you are unsure if you have an SD-only box your provider will also be able to help."

You might be wondering why ITV hasn't mentioned Freeview or Virgin Media TV viewers in its blog. Well, that's because neither of these services are impacted by the shake-up. For those viewers, the only change will be the improvement to picture and sound when watching local content from ITV1 regions.

How to check if your Sky TV or Freesat box supports HD

If you rely on a Freesat box, the easiest way to check whether your kit is compatible with High Definition (HD) broadcasts is to head to Channel 799. This is a test channel created by the BBC to help viewers navigate their similar switch to HD-only broadcasts, but it will also serve ITV viewers worried about the change.

The only purpose of the channel is to indicate whether your TV hardware is compatible with HD broadcasts. If your box is incompatible, you'll see a message about the upcoming transition to HD.

If you're watching telly on an older Sky TV box, the best way to find out whether you'll need to upgrade is to press the Services button on your remote control, followed by 4 and 5. Then you'll need to check the version number of your set-top box.

Sky has provided the following version numbers for ageing hardware that will need to be upgraded to continue watching ITV channels...

Sky Digibox

  • 4F01 to 4F06 (Amstrad)
  • 4E01 to 4E05 (Grundig)
  • 9F01 to 9F08 and 9F0A (Pace)
  • 0F01 to 0F05 (Panasonic)
  • 4E06 to 4E08 (Thomson)


  • 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)
a sky digibox is pictured on a black background

The switchover from ITV only impacts those with the oldest hardware from Sky, including the Sky Digibox, pictured above, which pre-dates the launch of Sky+ HD



Both Freesat and Sky have helplines for those who are concerned about the switch to HD coming next month from ITV and BBC. Sky customers with older, incompatible boxes should call 03337591018, while Freesat viewers in the same situation should dial 03453130051 for guidance.

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