Confusion over Freeview HD channels

What quality of service will we be getting with the new freeview HD channels?

TechRadar informed you yesterday that Ofcom has confirmed that four HD TV channels will be able to operate on the Freeview platform by 2012, with ITV,

Channel Four





currently bidding for the three available Freeview HD slots, in

The news begs the question – will commercial satellite and cable operators find it increasingly difficult to charge customers for programming in HD?

We asked Grant Rennell, deputy editor on our sister publication What Satellite and Digital TV to clarify these issues for us.

Rennell told TechRadar: “There is likely to be a lot of confusion regarding equipment here. New set-top boxes will need to be introduced but without these, most TVs with Freeview tuners will not be suitable for reception of the proposed channels, despite being labelled 'HD ready'. You could potentially upgrade them by plugging in a module for the HD services, but not DVB-T2 at the same time.”

Worse quality

The other question is: what quality of service will we be getting with the new freeview HD channels?

“Under Ofcom's propsals the transmission bitrates will be lower than that used for BBC HD and Sky's HD channels on satellite at the moment, meaning you'll get a picture no sharper than 720p (although some argue this is adequate in itself),” Rennell informed us.

“As far as the competition goes, if you want to watch the latest American TV imports and a wider choice of sport in HD then Sky will still have the monopoly on this for the forseeable future.”

Adam Hartley