MPs demand Freeview HD
The ongoing disagreement between the BBC and Ofcom over providing HDTV was considered by MPs yesterday.
The BBC has already committed to providing HDTV services by 2010, and is soon to launch a HDTV service using digital satellite. This "BBC Freesat" service will be a fine service for those who already have a satellite dish and wish to switch to HDTV.
Virgin Media owns the cable TV system, and they already have a pay-HD service.
But for those who can't put up a dish and wish to view HDTV via an aerial without paying a subscription, the options may be limited.
Yesterday (17 April), the Ofcom boss Ed Richards met with MPs. Ofcom has already planned that UHF transmission frequencies C31-C40 and C63-C68 will be sold of the highest bidder in an auction.
In the US, as the analogue NTSC service is being withdrawn and replaced by a HDTV service (ASTC), but in the UK the frequencies will be sold off to the highest bidder in effect another "stealth tax".
Interestingly, Mr Richards asserted "In our estimation there could be between four and six high definition channels put on digital terrestrial television to complement satellite and cable" and told MPs, "We have got no interest in having a fight on the matter, we have set up meetings with broadcasters to discuss this in detail over the next couple of weeks. It is not a matter of ideology for us. It is a matter of technical fact."
"We are looking very carefully at the argument that there is compelling public interest for a specific allocation of some spectrum specifically for HD."
Many people are buying HDTVs with built-in Freeview receivers, but without a defined transmission standard for UK terrestrial HD TV transmission none of them are capable of receiving HDTV without the addition of set-top box.
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