U.K. networks back down on HD

Freeview, channels pact for 2009 delivery

Blighty’s cautious approach to high-definition TV may change following an agreement between the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five to deliver HD channels on digital terrestrial platform Freeview by late 2009.

This is a U-turn for the webs who were at loggerheads with regulator Ofcom and had refused to provide HD channels on Freeview unless it gave them more spectrum.

Subject to the regulatory agreements and board approvals each of the U.K. terrestrials should have an HD channel running by the completion of digital switchover in 2012.

At present British auds have to subscribe to pay services BSkyB or Virgin Media to watch channels in high definition.

On Monday BBC governing body, the BBC Trust, greenlit a BBC HD channel.

This is likely to be available on the planned Freesat platform as well as Freeview, available in around 8.5 million homes.

BSkyB bowed an HD service in May 2006 and has signed up around 360,000 customers.

Channel 4 plans to launch a high-def web on BSkyB in December. The BBC has been trialing a high-def channel on BSkyB and Virgin.

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