Ofcom says: No space for HD on Freeview

If you hoped for HD on Freeview, you might as well abandon hope now, because Ofcom has decided it will be selling the spectrum to the highest bidder

Ian Morris
2 min read

We had high hopes that with the end of analogue in sight, we would finally get some more bandwidth available for over-the-air broadcasting in the UK. An increase in the available capacity would allow us to have high definition programmes on Freeview and even add new services.

According to ERT Weekly, a trade magazine for electrical retailers, Ofcom has decided to "take the money and run". Ofcom's Philip Rutman was quoted as saying, "There is no compelling case for the spectrum to be set aside for specific purposes." Meaning, he's unprepared to allow UK broadcasters to use the spectrum originally assigned to UK broadcasters.

So what does this mean for us HD fans? Well, it almost certainly rules-out HD over Freeview, unless the broadcasters are prepared to stump up millions of pounds to buy the licences. They would certainly be able to do this, if they thought it was worth it, but it's very hard to make money out of HD, and the sums of money involved would make it hard to recoup, especially via advertising -- we're pretty sure advertisers won't pay more for HD adverts, especially as fewer people will be watching the HD channels. It's much more likely that the spectrum will be bought up by the mobile phone networks.

It seems a shame that the government doesn't think HD is a priority, and that we should all be forced to get our HD from Sky -- although Freesat should improve the situation -- but not everyone can, or wants to, install a satellite dish on their house.

So what would we like to see? Well, with TV manufacturers keen to sell HD TVs to us, perhaps there should be a bidding coalition of TV companies and manufacturers all getting together to launch an HD platform. That way, they could sell more HD TVs and we could all get some high-quality content.

So thanks Ofcom and the government, you've just set us back ten years by failing to properly legislate the future of TV. There was a time when Britain led the world, in not only the quality of programming, but also the transmission of TV. These days, the Americans are showing us how it should be done -- they have free HD available over the air for all their main networks.

We'd love to hear how you feel about this -- feel free to use the comments section below or our forums to voice your opinions. -Ian Morris