ITV HD to be Freesat Red Button exclusive
ITV is to launch its new high definition channel exclusively on the Freesat platform it jointly runs with the BBC. It has emerged that ITV HD will only be a part time channel and will initially broadcast only when there is an HD simulcast available. Viewers will be alerted to press the Red Button in order to access the HD stream. The combination of the interactive elements and differing technical specifications means ITV HD will be unavailable to Sky Digital households – even if the more technically savvy viewers attempt to access it directly through the Other Channels feature.
Michael Grade, Executive Chairman, ITV plc said the channel would have an unrivalled line up of premium football including the FA Cup, England internationals and UEFA Champions League. “The launch of Freesat is the final piece in the digital jigsaw and will ensure that all viewers in the UK have access to free-to-air digital and high definition television.” A full announcement on the launch of ITV HD is expected in the next few weeks, though the assembled press at the Freesat launch were provided with ‘HD images’ of sci-fi drama Primeval and Britain’s Got Talent.
Freesat will also have BBC HD, broadcasting as a regular linear channel, though Channel 4 HD holds an exclusive contract with Sky.