Channel 4 has today launched a high-definition version of its primary channel on
. Channel 4 HD will carry the same programmes as Channel 4, but will show the high-definition versions wherever they are available.
From the start, HD programmes available include quirky US TV show Ugly Betty. But from the spring, lowbrow soap Hollyoaks will also be joining the HD club, along with others. The good news is that this simulcast channel will be accessible to Sky HD subscribers at no extra cost.
Sky HD boom
Since launching in May 2006, Sky HD has become Sky's fastest growing additional TV product ever. Over 292,000 customers signed up to the service in the first year alone, presumably making use of newly purchased HDTVs.
But don't despair if you don't have Sky HD. Channel 4 is currently looking for a few hundred volunteer homes in London to take part in a Freeview HD trial. You must already have an HD-ready TV set and you can find out if you're eligible by filling in this form.
HD coming to Freeview
It's also possible that the channel could eventually be available via Virgin Media. Back in October, Virgin Media struck a deal with Channel 4 enabling it to offer a selection of Channel 4 programming in HD via its TV-on-demand service. The deal also gives Virgin Media the option of carrying the C4HD channel in the future.
"Channel 4's mission is to innovate and provide its high quality programming across all platforms in formats that consumers want," said Rod Henwood, director of new business at Channel 4. "By launching the UK's first terrestrial simulcast service, we are living up to our reputation as an innovator in television and providing a unique service to our viewers."
Stephen Van Rooyen, director of advanced TV products at Sky, added: "With HD channels from both the BBC and Channel 4 now available on Sky's market leading HD platform, high definition is set to become the must-have TV format of the 21st century."
BBC in HD
The BBC won approval for its high-definition (HD) broadcasting plans after it passed a Public Value Test (PVT) set by the BBC Trust and the corporation has now launched the BBC HD channel.
The approval also means the Beeb can also show HD content on its free-to-view satellite TV offering (Freesat), and will eventually lead to HD programmes being show on Freeview - something that's not possible now without the removal of other channels from the platform.