If you thought that high definition television meant that you had to
stick a satellite dish on the side of your house or have a cable run
into it, think again. Television watchdog Ofcom has confirmed that BBC,
ITV and Channel Four will each be offering HD digital terrestrial
television (DTT) by the end of next year.
The new HD services will require viewers to buy a new set-top box in
order to receive the new services as they require the as-yet incomplete
DVB-T2 standard and MPEG-4 codec.
These two technologies make it possible to squeeze in the higher
bitrates required for HD TV to fit into the small amount of spectrum
allocated to Freeview.
"This is a significant step forward in the range of choice available in
the UK," said Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards. "It will enable
viewers to watch some of the very best programmes free-to-air in high
definition through their television aerials."
While the BBC shows a variety of programming from its normal channels
on its BBC HD channel on Sky, Freesat and Virgin Media, the BBC Trust
has yet to decide what will be shown on Freeview HD.
ITV will simulcast evening programmes and sub-let other times to other
channels. Channel Four will also simulcast its films and documentaries
in HD. A fourth HD channel is also on the cards in 2010, according to
The HD launch will be staggered throughout the UK with the Granada
region getting Freeview HD first next year with Scotland, Wales and the
West Country following in 2010. Anglia and Meridian in 2011 with
London, Tyne Tees and Ulster last in 2012 (just in time for the
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