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HDforAll Campaign Promotes UK HDTV Policy

Informitv reports that public service broadcasters in the UK have launched a campaign in conjunction with manufacturers and retailers to lobby for the availability of high-definition (HD) channels on digital terrestrial broadcast television.

The 'HDforAll' campaign for high-definition TV on 'Freeview' is being backed by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, together with consumer electronics companies such as Sony, Samsung and Toshiba, and major retailers Comet and Dixons.

The consortium is lobbying the UK communications regulator Ofcom to set aside spectrum released by the switchover to digital television to provide free-to-air HD television broadcasts. It follows a report from Ofcom that suggested that there is little demand for HD services on the digital Freeview platform.

Ofcom believes that the use of released spectrum should be decided by the market through an auction process. The communications regulator also argues that existing spectrum could be used to carry HD channels, if broadcasters re-allocated capacity from some of the supplementary services that they have launched on the digital platform.

The public service broadcasters are essentially pleading a special case, claiming that there is no obvious way that they could recoup the cost of transmitting HDTV. They say that failure to facilitate the spectrum for HD television risks undermining the Freeview platform and that substantially reducing the choice of channels to provide HD television would weaken the proposition.

Freeview continues to grow, with some two million set-top boxes and compatible digital televisions sold over the Christmas holiday period. A limited technical trial of HD digital terrestrial television in the London area suggested that 85 percent of users believed its availability was very important.

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