The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five have joined together with leading TV manufacturers to campaign for high definition TV (HDTV) programmes on Freeview.
The HDforAll campaign has been launched over concerns that current plans by telecoms regulator Ofcom will limit HDTV to cable and satellite broadcasters.
It argues that this ‘would risk dividing viewers into the ‘HD haves’ and the ‘HD have nots’, according to their ability to pay for subscription television.’
Ofcom has announced plans for an open auction of parts of the digital spectrum that will be released as a result of digital switchover.
The HDforAll coalition argues that if the auction takes place as planned it is likely that the millions who have invested in the Freeview will not be able to get HDTV.
It says the free to air television channels could not recoup the costs associated with an auction and so are at a disadvantage compared to other broadcasters who could charge for the service.
The coalition said an open auction ‘will put at risk the unifying role of television in the UK where every citizen has access to the same quality of TV service in return for the purchase of receiving equipment and a TV licence, irrespective of the ability to pay for additional services.’
As well as the broadcasters, the HDforall campaign is supported by DSGI, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba.
Many people are still confused about where they can watch high definition TV (HDTV), new Which? research suggests.
Our survey of 2,191 Which? members found that 3 per cent of people wrongly believed they could watch HD broadcasts on analogue TV, while 12 cent mistakenly believed that Freeview provided HD broadcasts.
Satellite giant Sky is the one broadcaster which people strongly associate with HDTV – with two thirds of viewers correctly identifying that it provides HD broadcasts.
But only around a fifth of members knew you could watch HDTV broadcasts via the cable companies NTL and Telewest.
Which? Senior Researcher Ceri Stanaway said: ‘There’s clearly a fair amount of consumer confusion about how to get HDTV. In itself this isn’t too much of a problem unless you want to take advantage of the improved picture quality that HDTV offers.
‘However, our survey results may reflect a certain level of confusion with television services as a whole. There’s so much new television terminology being used these days, it’s important that people understand the differences between the services on offer and whether they really need them.
‘For example, HDTV is an entirely optional service; it shouldn’t be confused with digital television, which you will need to get if you want to carry on watching television after digital switchover (2008-2012).’
* Our research: 2,191 Which? members from our survey panel completed an online survey in January 2007.