BBC to sub-let spectrum capacity on Freeview multiplex B in parts of UK
In advance of the roll-out of Freeview HD starting in December 2009, the BBC will clear Multiplex B of all current Standard Definition (SD) streams.
This will result in the closure of one BBC Red Button interactive video stream and the BBC News Multiscreen stream.
The News Multiscreen will still be available on Sky and Virgin Media and its video content can be seen via BBC Online.
The BBC remains committed to delivering the very best video content to Freeview viewers via its remaining interactive stream.
While Multiplex B will be fully reserved for HD services in the parts of the UK that have been through digital switchover, the BBC will, through a competitive tender, offer to the market the two vacant streams available in other parts of the UK in the interim period to 2012.
The two streams will be available in approximately 80% of the country from the end of 2009, and coverage will reduce to zero when switchover is complete in 2012.
The BBC has launched its competitive bid process which will provide third parties the opportunity to launch new services for audiences in the UK.
Caroline Thomson, Chief Operating Officer for the BBC, said: "The BBC has identified an opportunity to release temporary spare spectrum capacity to any interested companies that wish to launch new services for audiences in the UK.
"Not only does this mean that we are ensuring that spectrum is used as efficiently as possible but it will also deliver better value for money for licence fee payers."
Notes to Editors
Multiplex B was awarded to the BBC after the collapse of ITV Digital. It is one of two multiplexes held by the BBC. It is licensed to BBC Free-To-View Ltd (a wholly-owned BBC company) by Ofcom.
Ofcom consulted on converting Multiplex B to HD on 21 November 2007. The Ofcom consultation can be found on its website at w//w//w.of.//.com.org.uk//con//docs/dtt//future.
The BBC has published the invitation to tender in Broadcast magazine. Companies can register interest at MultiplexBCapacity@bbc.co.uk. Expressions of interest must be received by 4 November 2009.
Capacity Allocation Guidelines for Multiplex B from Free-To-View Ltd are available at www.bbc.co.uk/info/policies.
The BBC Red Button interactive video stream and the BBC News Multiscreen stream will be switched off on 27 October.