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[05.09.2011] New HD slot confirmed for digital terrestrial TV

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ofcom, September 5, 2011

Viewers may be able to watch more High Definition (HD) TV through a standard roof-top aerial, thanks to Ofcoms decision today to invite applications for an extra HD slot on Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT).

This decision will mean that a new HD channel may be joining the existing four HD channels: BBC HD, BBC One HD, ITV1 HD and 4HD.

Ofcom has today invited applications from commercial Public Service Broadcasters* for this fifth HD slot on DTT (Freeview).

HD launched on Freeview in May 2010. Since then, sales of Freeview HD devices have topped 1.8 million. HD services are currently available to 50% of UK homes. Coverage will rise as digital switchover continues to completion in 2012.

The closing date for applications is 17 October 2011. Applications will be judged against a number of key criteria. This will include an assessment of how the new capacity will contribute to enhancing the range and diversity of high quality television services available on DTT.

It is expected that the new channel will be ready to launch by 1 April 2012.

Fitting HD onto DTT

Spectrum is a high demand finite natural resource. HD is spectrum hungry, demanding roughly four times as much as standard definition. This meant there was originally not enough bandwidth available to broadcast HD on DTT.

It has been possible to create the extra capacity needed for HD on DTT by reorganising existing TV services and introducing two new technologies MPEG-4 and DVB-T2.

Who can get HD on Freeview

Freeview HD is being rolled out in line with the existing digital switchover schedule and will eventually be available to 98.5% of UK households by the end of 2012.

Today, over 50% or the UK can receive HD broadcasts including Manchester, London, Newcastle, Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool, and the majority of Wales. Visit the Freeview website to find out if HD broadcasts are in your area: www.freeview.co.uk/freeview/HD.

*Commercial Public Service Broadcasters include Channel 3 licences, Channel 5, Channel 4, and the Welsh Authority.

Source: http://media.ofcom.org.uk

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