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BBC moves closer to high definition channel

Watchdog gives green light


HDTV ready logo

The BBC moved a step closer to launching a high-definition television channel today.

Media watchdog Ofcom published a report saying the proposed channel would be unlikely to have a significant negative market impact.

The BBC Trust Unit issued its own findings saying the channel would deliver public value.


The HDTV channel would be available free-to-view via digital satellite, digital cable and Freeview.

It would broadcast HD versions of existing shows from BBC1, BBC2 and other channels.

The BBC already films events such as the World Cup, Wimbledon and the Proms in HD, plus landmark series such as Planet Earth.

It is currently running a HDTV trial on satellite and cable, but hopes to launch the dedicated channel next year.

Which? TV expert, Mike Briggs, said: ‘This is potentially great news for people who want to watch high definition TV on their HD-ready sets, but don’t want to pay pricey monthly subscriptions to Sky or Virgin.

‘Even if the terrestrial Freeview service only runs for a limited four hour duration, it’s four hours more than we’ve been expecting.’

Dedicated channel

Ofcom’s Market Impact Assessment report said the channel ‘is likely to deliver consumer benefit through increased take-up of HD which is likely to spread across all the major TV platforms’.

The BBC’s report said the proposed channel would deliver public value.

But it highlighted a potential problem – while the channel would broadcast for nine hours to satellite and cable homes, Freeview customers would receive initially only a limited four hour service.

The BBC Trust will issue its provisional conclusions on the proposals next week, to be followed by a four-week consultation period.

A final decision will be announced on or before November 21.

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