UK high-def over-the-air TV trial successful; now viewers expect HD on Freeview

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hdtvlogo.jpgHDTVUK reported on the joint statement released today by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Five, who formed the group testing free-to-air terrestrial high definition TV over a modified Freeview system.

The trial, which began over 5 months ago, has been considered a technical success.

Nearly all of the 450 or so London householders involved in the trial said that they now expect high definition content to be broadcast via Freeview (or equivalent free-to-air digital service), 86% within just 3 years.

90% said that the existing public broadcasters should be responsible for HD development.

95% said that the HD picture looked as good as or better than they had expected it to. When asked about which programme genres would benefit most from being broadcast in HD, wildlife and sport lead the way with scores of 9.4 and 8.9 out of 10 respectively.

Those who took part said they’d like to see at least 6 or 7 channels, and ideally 10, airing over Freeview.

It’s an encouraging report, though previously mentioned technical issues would suggest that we’re not going to see any HD rollout over terrestrial until the digital switchover is completed in 2012 – there just isn’t the bandwidth available whilst analogue TV is airing, and there’s not enough room on current Freeview for that many HD channels, even with signal compression.

I’d expect to see some free-to-air high definition content available next decade, but it’ll likely still be Sky, the cable companies, possibly BT and other Internet-based solutions that will dominate.

Read more high definition news at HDTVUK

Andy Merrett