ITV HD in talks to lease DTT capacity

TV has said it is considering the lease of spare capacity to a third party as part of its application to run an HD channel in the DTT multiplex being cleared for high definition broadcasts.

In its application to the regulator Ofcom, the broadcaster says it is planning an initial HD simulcast of ITV1, with fellow Channel 3 licensees offering separate services in Scotland and Northern Ireland, to reflect their regional branding. It is anticipated that an initial 40% of content will be produced in native HD, increasing to around 60-65% in 2012 and to over 70% by 2014. The channel would run from 18.00 to 23.00, taking advantage of increased HD production on the broadcaster’s primetime programmes. ITV presently transmits a ‘Red Button’ HD service on Freesat covering selected events.

ITV says that the use of its daytime hours is still under consideration; it is mindful that viewers may expect to see live HD sports coverage outside the channel’s regular broadcast hours. The broadcaster has confirmed that it is in preliminary talks to potential users of the capacity, which will be awarded through a mix of a beauty contest and auction. It is also considering an overnight VOD service that would deliver content to hard drives.

Channel 4 has also posted an application for capacity with the regulator Ofcom. However, Five is absent from the bids, despite having participated in the 2006 London HD trial. It remains possible that Five will launch an HD service at a later date.

The BBC is being gifted capacity in Multiplex B, which is being cleared for the first transmissions to begin in late 2009.