freeviewhdOfcom has accepted proposals from ITV and Channel 4 to launch high definition services on Freeview. Multiplex B will be reconfigured to carry a total of three HD channels – a version of BBC HD for terrestrial TV has already been approved – in tandem with digital switchover. Viewers in the ITV Granada region will be the first to be able to watch Freeview HD, as the new service has been dubbed, with switchover taking place there in autumn 2009. Wales, Scotland and the West Country will follow in 2010; ITV Central, Yorkshire, Anglia and Meridian in 2011; and London, Tyne Tees and Ulster in 2012.
Existing services on the multiplex will be reorganised onto the five other multiplexes, with B being altered to use the newer MPEG-4 and DVB-T2 compression and transmission standards.

“This is a significant step forward in the range of choice available in the UK,” said Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards. “It will enable viewers to watch some of the very best programmes free-to-air in high definition through their television aerials.”

ITV has reached agreement with Channel TV, STV and UTV to broadcast ITV1’s primetime schedule in HD. ITV HD will broadcast key sporting fixtures, including the 2010 World Cup, in high definition, along with some newly-commissioned drama series such as Marple. Regional news in the early evening and late night will be replaced on the HD channel with nationally-broadcast “programmes about the UK’s nations and regions”. Outside primetime, ITV plans to sub-let its slot to other providers.
England, Scotland and Northern Ireland will receive Channel 4 HD while viewers in Wales will receive a high definition version of S4C Digidol. The broadcasters will operate the slot jointly and both “may offer in future an on-demand service or sub-let during overnight hours”.

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By Expat