's Digital Edge
Ofcom gives Channel 5 an HD slot on Freeview Team

(13 June 2009 10:00 pm)


MUMBAI: UK media watchdog Ofcom has made a provisional decision to reserve an HD (high-definition) slot for Channel 5 to provide new services on Freeview from 2010.

Ofcom's final decision to award an HD licence to Channel 5 is subject to it resolving certain key criteria related to its application by the end of 2009.

This announcement follows a tender process which attracted two bids from Channel 5 and Channel 4 and S4C.


Ofcom considered that both bids were of high quality but after careful consideration decided that the application from Channel 5 fulfilled the various criteria more than the application from Channel 4 and S4C.

Blockbuster movies: Five's application initially involves simulcasting its main public services channel programmes at peak time on HD.

This means that programmes such as The Gadget Show, Uefa Europa League, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, children's show Milkshake and blockbuster movie premiers could become available in HD from late 2010.


In the future, Channel 5 predicts sharing its HD channel with another broadcaster during daytime hours and supplying other services, such as Video-on-Demand (VoD) in HD overnight.

Three Freeview slots had already been reserved for new HD service prior to today's announcement.

One of those slots is for ITV - together with UTV, stv and Channel TV - while the other has gone jointly to Channel 4 and S4C.

Digital switchover: The initial first three HD services are expected to begin with the Granada region from late 2009.

The rest of the UK will follow as each region switches to digital with nationwide coverage by 2012.

Ofcom's Content Board chairman Phillip Graf says, "Channel 5 now joins the other public service broadcasters in providing new services for viewers. Audience research tells us that it is just the kind of material people want to see.

"This means more choice for TV viewers who will be able to watch in high definition some of the very best of British programming, free to air through their television aerials."

New technologies : The process of providing HD services on Freeview was made possible after Ofcom announced that it would upgrade the DTT platform to new and more efficient technologies.

The upgrade includes using two new broadcasting standards, known as MPEG-4 and DVB-T2. These will allow the broadcasters to free-up capacity in order to offer new HD services.

A technical trial of the new DVB-T2 technology is already underway in London. Ofcom is also talking to the BBC with a view to allowing HD services to be launched in other parts of the UK in advance of this timetable by the use of temporary frequency assignments at a number of main transmission sites.

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