Editor ©RapidTVNews | 06-09-2011

Ofcom has invited applications broadcasters for a fifth UK DTT HD channel broadcast on multiplex B joining BBC HD, BBC One HD, ITV1 HD and 4HD.

The UK broadcast and telecoms regulator has opened applications to bolster the output of the Freeview DTT service to commercial Public Sector Broadcasters, which includes the Channel 3 licences, Channel 5, Channel 4, and the Welsh Authority.

The closing date for applications is 17 October 2011 and Ofcom expects the new channel to be ready to launch by 1 April 2012.

At present, HD services are available to around half of UK homes with sales of Freeview HD devices nearing the two million mark. Penetration is set to rise considerably as digital switchover in the UK continues to completion in 2012. In fact, Ofcom states that Freeview HD will eventually be available to 98.5% of UK households by the end of 2012.

The regulator is also assuring applicants that their bids will be judged against a number of key criteria, including an assessment of how the new capacity will contribute to enhancing the range and diversity of high quality television services available on DTT. The issue of spectrum capacity, a perennial consideration for UK broadcast and telecoms services especially for HD on DTT, is said to have been addressed by reorganising existing TV services and introducing two new technologies – MPEG-4 and DVB-T2.