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Free-to-air HD channels approved by Ofcom

Three HD channels to become available on Freeview

Freeview digital TV

A Freeview box is a cheap way to convert to digital TV

Three high definition Freeview channels will become available in the UK in 2009.

The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have all been granted licences from broadcast regulator Ofcom allowing them to broadcast on free-to-air stations.

The channels will be broadcast on the new DVB-T2 standard, meaning that consumers will have to upgrade their current set-top-boxes or buy a new set-top-box and add it to their IDTV (TV with integrated Freeview tuner).

High Definition TV available to more people

The roll-out of this service will be staggered – beginning in the Granada region next year, and finishing in London in 2012. The new set-top-boxes will become available next year in time for this transition, and LCD and plasma TV manufacturers are likely to include the new DVB-T2 tuner in their future IDTV models.

Ben Stevens from Which? said: ‘Many people believe that buying an HDTV is all they need to do to be able to watch TV in high definition, but it’s only part of the process. The material also needs to be in HD, such as a Blu-ray DVD, or the HD packages offered by Sky and Virgin Media.

World Cup 2010 and London’s 2012 Olympics in HD

‘HD channels becoming available on Freeview will mean that more people will be able to benefit from their HDTV purchase, although having to upgrade the Freeview receiver will be frustrating for many consumers. It would be great to be able to watch the 2010 South African World Cup and the 2012 London Olympics in HD.’

Freeview channels are still not available in every UK home. To find out if you can receive the current Freeview channels use the coverage checker on Freeview’s website.

To receive available Freeview channels you will need an IDTV, or an analogue TV and a set-top-box. Click here to read our review of more than 35 set-top-boxes.

More information can be found in our advice guide on Freeview, or on Ofcom’s website.

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