BBC Trust approves HD channel

BBC Trust approves HD channel

High definition gets green light after public consultation

The BBC Trust has approved proposals for a high definition (HD) television channel following the conclusion of a Public Value Test.

The announcement follows original support for a BBC HD channel declared in September by Ofcom and the BBC Trust following a public consultation.

The consultation group received 911 responses from members of the public and 14 from industry stakeholders.

The BBC Trust has approved the channel to launch on cable and Sky satellite as soon as possible, on Freesat when the platform launches, and on Freeview as soon as is feasible.

The timetable for launch on Freeview will await a review of digital spectrum capacity issues in 2008.

The BBC Trust has ruled out an early launch of an interim four-hour overnight service on Freeview before the technical standards for providing HD on Freeview are clear.

"The Trust is pleased to approve the new HD television channel on all platforms," said Diane Coyle, BBC trustee and chairman of the Public Value Test Steering Group.
"After considering all the evidence we are satisfied that the public value generated is sufficiently high, and that there is unlikely to be a negative impact on the market.
"High definition will eventually become a significant broadcasting standard and, as with all BBC services for which everyone pays, it is essential that this is universally available as soon as possible.

"This means that the Trust will consider in spring 2008 the timing of the launch on Freeview, when there should be greater clarity on HD broadcast standards and the spectrum capacity available for the channel."

The BBC Trust has said that any move towards the 1080p HD picture resolution should cause minimal disadvantage to consumers, and that future transmission of higher resolution picture standards should be backwards compatible with current display equipment.

There will also be a review of the service no later than 2013, following the completion of the digital switchover.

The BBC's HD service is forecast to cost £21.4m per annum in 2012 if a full nine-hour service is provided on digital terrestrial TV in additional capacity.