Compromising options 

2 February 2008 tbs.pm/852

Digital Spy: Ofcom’s HDTV plans “jeopardise” Freeview

You just have to laugh at the intentions behind some so-called “surveys”. Ask people whether they would prefer five high definition channels as opposed to (say) four, and the inevitable response for most people would be the bigger number unless there’s some prohibitive cost factor brought into the equation.

Bearing that in mind, consider this quote: “The organisation noted that regardless of whether DVB-T2 is actually deployed, Ofcom’s proposals do not guarantee a 5 channel public service broadcasting simulcast of BBC One, BBC Two, ITV1, Channel 4 and Five, which was favoured in earlier market research”.

Yes you’ve guessed it – Ofcom’s terrestrial HDTV proposal is lacking because it doesn’t have Channel Five (what a shame), but you have to bear in mind that there’s also the restriction of new terrestrial frequency allocations caused by international agreements for the reallocation of UHF spectrum.

So given the various factors of cost combined with transmitter coverage and frequency allocation, Ofcom’s HDTV proposal may not be perfect by any means but it does offer a terrestrial HDTV service of some description to the majority of the UK population relatively painlessly, technical issues notwithstanding.

Which is a lot better than nothing at all, and anyone still desperate for a high definition Channel Five can always investigate the forthcoming Freesat options which will include more free-to-air HD channels – digital satellite television will always have more capacity for HDTV than terrestrial broadcasting.