Ofcom awards HD licences

Ofcom has announced it is reserving capacity for Channel 4 and S4C, and the Channel 3 licensees (ITV plc, Channel TV, STV and UTV) to launch high definition services on DTT.

It means that with the previously announced BBC HD at least three HD services will be available in North West Britain when the region switches to digital only TV transmissions in late autumn 2009. Nationwide coverage will be possible following the completion of digital switchover in 2012.

Ofcom is optimistic that a fourth DTT licensed service could be launched on DTT around 2010. The licensing process is due to be announced shortly.

ITV plans to offer a peak time HD schedule between 18.00 and 23.00 and will include some of its most popular programmes. It is a step up from the occasional service currently broadcast on Freesat.

Channel 4 and S4C have made a significant HD commitment. Channel 4 has chosen an exclusive agreement with Sky, where it currently broadcasts a 24-hour service, though much of the content is currently upconverted.