High definition will be available on Freeview for the first time from the end of next year. It has been announced that three HD channels will be launching on Freeview next year – one will be BBC HD, the second will be ITV HD and the third is Channel 4 HD. These HD channels will only appear in regions that are digital only, so this is why only certain areas will get the HD channels in 2009 and it will be staggered across the country as and when digital switchover completes in each region, finishing off with the London area in 2012.
The BBC isn’t sure on what content will appear on the Freeview version of the BBC HD channel but it’s thought to either be exactly the same as the BBC HD service on satellite & Virgin Media cable, or a variation of it – it’s not known what the broadcast hours will be on Freeview. The ITV HD channel on Freeview will air an exact simulcast of the normal ITV1 schedule and The Register says ITV will “sub-let the channel to others outside prime time”. Channel 4 HD on Freeview will also air the same as schedule as the normal Channel 4 – it’s not known if Channel 4 HD will be on air for 24 hours a day. An as-yet unnamed fourth HD channel will be announced at a later date. You will need to buy a new Freeview HD set top box to watch the high definition channels. Click here to see the Ofcom news article.