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BBC Trust okays high-definition TV channel

26 November, 2007:

The BBC Trust, which governs the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), has approved plans for a high-definition (HD) television.

According to a BBC report, “the BBC Trust determined that a high-definition television channel would generate sufficient public value and was not likely to have a negative effect on the market.”

The BBC’s high-definition channel would be launched on cable and Sky satellite as soon as possible, on Freesat when this platform is launched, and on Freeview after a review of digital spectrum capacity which is scheduled for 2008, the BBC report added.

The BBC Trust’s decision on high-definition television, taken on November 19, 2007, follows an examination by the BBC Trust as well as by Britain’s media regulator Ofcom and a Public Value study – all of which were found positive.

Mark Thompson, director-general of BBC, said the BBC “has pioneered high-definition broadcasting in the United Kingdom, setting industry standards. This single, composite BBC channel follows on from almost a dozen channels being transmitted in high-definition by BSkyB.”

The BBC Trust, however, vetoed plans to launch an interim, 4-hour overnight service on Freeview, until technical standards for providing high-definition on Freeview and availability of spectrum capacity are clearer. The BBC Trust, the report said, was of the opinion that an interim service “could confuse consumers and cause them to buy equipment which could become obsolete.”

Proposals for the Freeview service were put on hold because viewers might have been required to buy two new set-top boxes to receive the channel.

According to the BBC Trust, the high-definition channel should be mixed genre – comprising up to 20% of sport and film content. The HD channel has been designed so as not to become a direct competitor for HD channels showing sports and movies.

A trial version is already running on satellite and cable, showing such programs as Bleak House and Silent Witness.

The full channel will include a 9-hour schedule from 3 p.m. to midnight, with freedom to extend beyond those hours if necessary.





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