Firstly, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Has it actually been confirmed that CBM is finished? At last report, it was launching 'sometime this summer'. Well now is sometime this sometime this summer, the barker screen may have been removed ahead of the channel's launch.
I agree that CBM doesn't sound very exciting, but it'll take more than a barker screen disappearing to make me believe that it's gone.
However, now that there are 2 million Freeviewers and rising, perhaps UKtv will put UK Gold on there - the ad revenue may pay for the channel by now, it would pull in more viewers to Freeview (even more ad revenue) and it's likely to become the most popular Freeview channel.
UK Gold in some form was rumoured even before the launch. However I'm not expecting the full UK Gold, moreso a UK Gold 2 type thing (basically a section of UK Gold timeshifted) to take the place of UK Bright Ideas (which I don't honestly believe UKTV saw as anything other than a placeholder channel to keep their second slot on Freeview - it might well appear on other platforms but Freeview is the only one where it serves any purpose, and a timeshare channel running on a 2 hour loop hardly seems like something they are investing mega bucks in).
I'd like the full UK Gold on there, but at the same time as it stands (unless CBM actually has been scrapped) there's not really anywhere for it to go apart from in UK History's slot - which I think is a very worthwhile channel.
There is the rights issue to deal with (UK Gold being a pay channel) but since most of it's programming is BBC material, and the BBC have a vested interest in seeing both UKTV and Freeview succeed, I can't see renegotiating the rights posing much of a problem. And since most (if not all?) of the no BBC stuff is years old anyway, I can't see much of a problem with rights owners there either.
Since UKTV would make more in ad revenue from having 2 million more viewers (who would be more likely to watch it) than they do from subscription revenue (which isn't that high - it's only on the premium channels that subscription revenue amounts to much), it would seem like a good route to take.
Aswell as that, there is the Sky One issue. Sky did say that it was their intention to replace one of their 3 channels with a version of Sky One within 18 months of Freeview's launch. The obvious channel to go is Sky Sports News, but since they want it to be a barker for Sky Sports and therefore Sky Digital, it does look like Sky Travel (which I must say, having never sat down and watched it until last week, isn't too bad at all) will be bowing out to make way for this channel.
The big question over it however, is just what does 'a version' mean? People who think they are going to sit down and watch brand new Star Trek and Simpsons for free are kidding themselves; you can bet your life that all new imported US programmes will not be there, not least because of the lucrative rights issues surrounds them. I don't see that older US programmes are out of the question; is Star Trek: The Next Generation, and season 3 Simpsons really so lucrative that they couldn't negotiate FTA clearance for them?
Without the big US shows though, Sky One, despite it's popularity, is actually pretty much a pile of crap; cheap daytime US fillers, and generally poor original productions (although they do have the occasional gem in there).
The only way I can see Sky One appearing is if all the lucrative new US shows were covered over by older episodes of that show, or if necessary, a different show (exactly what did happen with some programmes when ONdigital launched due to old rights deals which licenced programmes for satellite and cable distribution only, not allowing for pay DTT
). But that then means you have a channel partly full of ****, and partly full of old (if good) US imports which are all readily available on existing terrestrial channels anyway (although admittedly not in the same volume). It may still be good to have, but it's missing one of the biggest reasons that people watch Sky One.
This is why I backed the original Freeview's (the Carlton and Granada one - the BBC/Sky/CC application was called 'FreeToView' until after they had won the multiplexes) application. They proposed a full free service called Freeview, which would have much the same channels as the Freeview we have has (without the BBC wasting most of a second multiplex as they are), and then there would be a 'Freeview Plus' addon which would involve a single multiplex of basic bread and butter non-premium subscription channels like Sky One and UK Gold. How this would be charged was never finalised, but I envisaged it being marketed in the shops as a product in it's own right, rather than a subscription, where you'd pay a fixed amount for a year.
That I believe would have worked. The underlying problem with Freeview (which has been brought home to me over the past week having been forced onto it) is that despite it's marketing, it isn't a worthy competitor alongside pay TV systems, there just aren't enough decent channels on it. Personally, I'd rather pay a few quid for pay TV and have something to watch, then bask in the glory of my free service which I am rarely content with.