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Ofcom announces plans for high-definition Freeview channels

by Parm Mann on 20 October 2008, 10:53

Tags: Freeview, Ofcom, DTV Services

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Having already confirmed that HD broadcasts will be available on Freeview from 2009, the UK communications regulator Ofcom has now provided further details and revealed that many regions will be left waiting until 2012.

Ofcom states that the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 each have a reserved Freeview slot allowing for HD broadcasts to begin in Autumn 2009. Unfortunately for viewers, the HD rollout will occur on a region-by-region basis that spans a lengthy four years. The regional rollout of the three Freeview HD channels breaks down as follows:

  • 2009 - Granada
  • 2010 - Wales, Scotland and the West Country
  • 2011 - Central, Yorkshire, Anglia and Meridian
  • 2012 - London, Tyne Tees and Ulster

Of particular interest to viewers will be the broadcasters' programming plans. The BBC plans to continue offering shows already available on its BBC HD via on BSkyB, Virgin Media and Freesat. Channel 4 has stated that its Freeview HD channel will air over 150 hours of films in its first twelve months, alongside popular shows such as Desperate Housewives and European Cup Rugby. ITV has announced that it will simultaneously broadcast the current peak-time ITV1 schedule in HD, as well as the 2010 Football World Cup.

Aware that the majority of the UK will want to take advantage of World Cup footage in HD, Ofcom has stated that a spare spectrum could potentially allow non-upgraded regions to tune in during the event.

The Freeview HD rollout is still slow going, but Ofcom adds that another Freeview HD channel could launch by 2010, and it expects the license to be awarded by the end of this year.

To be able to view the new services viewers will need an HD-Ready TV set and a forthcoming Freeview HD box.

Official press release: Freeview set for HD channels

HEXUS Forums :: 7 Comments

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One hopes that these new Freeview channels will be equally available on HD services supplied by Sky and VM.
Another long wait in store for most then!

I just hope that PC hardware manufacturers are quick to the market with freeview HD tuners, although I don't expect them to be anything less than overpriced when they do come!! I wonder what performance impact these DVB-T2 tuners will have on system performance. Hopefully, a simple tuner upgrade will be fine for my HTPC.

Switch over for me is 2011…..that might be enough time for MS to have implemented HD support in Windows 7 media centre, although I won't hold my breath. MediaPortal 2 will probably be my first choice when its released.
I can't imagine performance of DVB-T2 cards would be any different to DVB-T, but if there is a performance impact it's going to be far out weighed by the general increase in system performance over the next couple of years.
It's a wait until 2011 for me, so I'm eager to hear Ofcom's plans to bring the World Cup to everyone in HD. I don't watch a lot of TV, but I'll be hooked during that tournament. :)
If you have to buy a freeview HD box people could just get freesat and have the HD channels now.