HD/DTT looks set to go ahead in the UK
Just before Ofcom announced the opening of a consultation on the proposal to clear multiplex B for HD use, British broadcasters got together to sign a memorandum of understanding to do much the same.
The Ofcom general proposal is that by switching all the transmissions still broadcast using 16QAM to 64QAM and a slight re-arrangement of services it would be possible to clear multiplex B for other uses. The other uses would be HDTV, made possible by changing to MPEG-4 (H.264) compression instead of MPEG-2 and the use of DVB-T2. Although the DVB-T2 specification is still being defined it is thought that 3-4 HDTV channels could be fitted into multiplex B.
The joint approach now agreed in Britain by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 seems to be in general agreement with the Ofcom proposal.
The broadcasters seem to have accepted the view that no new spectrum will be made available for HD in the UK and that they will have to make it happen within the existing allocations. The non-binding memorandum of understanding signed by the broadcasters would see the first HD services on the DTT platform being made available from late 2009 or early 2010, with Channel Five following as soon as capacity becomes available by 2012 at the latest.
Although broadcasters seem already to be in agreement, the Ofcom consultation is still seeking opinions from other interested parties until it closes on the 30th January 2008.
Sources: BBC website and Ofcom website
Item added: 27th November 2007