ITV is to launch three new regions in HD via Sky and Freesat at the end of March, but viewers using Freeview HD and Virgin Media will need to wait a little longer.
On 31st March 2016, technical changes will take place on satellite allowing ITV to launch HD variants of ITV Anglia (East), ITV Yorkshire (West) and ITV Tyne Tees. The HD services will replace the existing out-of-region HD version on the current ITV HD channel number slot.
Sky and Freesat viewers in the ITV Anglia, Tyne Tees and Yorkshire regions are being advised to check any recording bookings and series links they have
scheduled on or after 31 March 2016 and re-instate them, if necessary. ITV advises that most digital satellite boxes will be able to pick up the changes automatically but
some viewers may need to reboot their box if there is a loss of ITV HD from 31st March.
Viewers who normally receive Yorkshire East (E Yorks, Lincolnshire, parts of S Yorkshire) and Anglia West (Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, parts of Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire) will need to switch to standard definition to continue receiving their relevant news, as ITV HD will carry the news from the other half of their region.
ITV has confirmed that when additional technical capacity becomes available, these so-called sub-regions will be added in HD, but no timescales have been given. This is in contrast to Scottish channel 3 broadcaster STV, who recently told Digital UK that it is "likely that not all Channel 3 SD regions and sub-regions will have matching HD regions".
Freeview HD, Youview (BT/TalkTalk/Plusnet) and Virgin Media
There's been no word on when Freeview HD and Virgin Media viewers in the Anglia, Tyne Tees and Yorkshire regions will get their local version of ITV in HD. In the meantime, viewers on these platforms are being advised they are "unaffected" by the changes and need to continue to switch to standard definition ITV to watch their regional news programmes.
YouView (BT TV, TalkTalk TV, Plusnet TV) is also affected by the delay, as the service relies on the terrestrial Freeview signal for ITV HD.
Behind the scenes, the current Freeview HD multiplex that carries all major channels in HD has a different level of regionalisation, and it's likely that once the technical barriers to regionalise ITV HD in Anglia, Tyne Tees and Yorkshire regions is overcome, Freeview viewers will be able to watch their own regional programming in HD. The BBC, which operates the multiplex that carries ITV HD, is planning to rollout regional and national variations during the first few years of the next BBC Charter period, which is currently due to start in 2017.