Five has been handed a high definition channel slot in Freeview HD, when the capacity is made available.

Despite Channel 4's interest in taking a second slot – for its E4 programming – Ofcom has plumped for Five – the fourth major terrestrial broadcaster, as long as it reaches the necessary criteria by December 31 this year.

Five will not be broadcasting full time HD, but instead will simulcast during peak evening hours by the end of 2010, although Freeview HD may not arrive in some UK television regions until the very end of 2012.

Time-share HD

"Channel 5's application initially involves simulcasting its main public services channel programmes at peak time on HD," revealed Ofcom.

"This means that popular programmes such as The Gadget Show, Uefa Europa League, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and blockbuster movie premiers could become available in HD from late 201.

"In the future, Channel 5 predicts sharing its HD channel with another broadcaster during daytime hours and supplying other services, such as Video on Demand in HD overnight."

Philip Graf, chairman of Ofcom's content board, said: "This gives Channel Five the opportunity to join the other public service broadcasters in providing new services for viewers.

"It means more choice for TV viewers who will be able to watch in high-definition popular programming, free to air through their television aerials."

Five's Director of Strategy, Charles Constable, added: "Five is pleased to be awarded the fourth DTT HD stream so Freeview viewers can enjoy the best of our programmes in high definition format. We look forward to resolving outstanding issues with Ofcom so our