10 new HD channels could launch on Freeview in 2014
Ofcom, the UK's independent communications regulator, has announced that some of the bandwidth freed after the digital switchover was completed at the end of last year can now be allocated to new terrestrial high-definition TV channels.
This means that up to 10 new HD channels could launch in 2014, with the BBC already expressing interest in taking up one or more of them for new HD services. Transmission company Arqiva has been awarded the licence to run the new multiplexes.
When the digital switchover was finally finished, two frequency bands were made available. One was auctioned for new 4G mobile data services, which will start to launch from a majority of the major networks this summer, and the other put aside for digital terrestrial television. It is this latter band, at 600MHz, that will be used for the new HD over-the-air channels.
At present, the four main stations use the current high-definition allocation for Freeview, with BBC One HD, BBC Two HD, ITV HD and 4HD available to those with Freeview HD tuners in a set-top-box or TV. It is expected, therefore, that Five HD will also be one of those who will seek to have a place in the new line-up.