Ofcom offers fifth HD DTT channel

Ofcom has invited applications for an extra HD channel on the UK’s DTT network.

The communications regulator has called for applications from commercial public service broadcasters for a fifth HD slot on the Freview platform to join BBC HD, BBC One HD, ITV HD and 4HD. The move could see Channel 5 launch a HD channel or the BBC add BBC Two HD to its line-up.

The closing date for applications is October 17. Ofcom said applications will be judged against various criteria, including “an assessment of how the new capacity will contribute to enhancing the range and diversity of high quality television services available on DTT”. The new channel is likely to launch by April 1 2012.

Freeview HD launched in May 2010 and sales of Freeview HD devices have since passed 2.5 million. HD channels are available to 79% of UK homes but that will increase to 98.5% by end-2012. Ofcom said it had expanded the capacity of the UK’s network to cope with five HD channels by reorganising existing TV services and introducing MPEG-4 and DVB-T2 technologies.

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