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Freeview to start new year with HD "landmark"

All devices certified with the Freeview logo will need to be compatible with the digital terrestrial platform's HD service from January 2017, in the final stage of a programme to make all new Freeview devices ready for changes to the service in the coming years.

Since January this year, all TVs 32 inches or larger have had to be compatible with the HD service in order to carry the Freeview logo. From January 2017, this will applied to all devices, as Freeview highlighted in a press release today.

In the statement, Freeview Managing Director, Guy North, said it was a "landmark moment" in the evolution of UK television and would pave the way for further improvements in picture quality, including Ultra HD. New Freeview certified devices will need to support Ultra HD via the internet, as the BBC prepares to make the iPlayer the main platform to deliver 4K content to households.
Older Freeview equipment will still be able to support the Freeview standard definition service, at least for a few more years. Older Freeview HD devices will also support reception of HD channels, although newer connected services aren't supported.

In the long term, it's planned to migrate more channels to DVB-T2, the broadcast standard that underpins the HD service, also for standard defintion channels. Newer Freeview devices also will handle retunes and multiple regions better than older devices, which struggled during digital switchover.

Earlier this year free-to-air satellite service Freesat completed a similar move, with all new devices having to support HD and connected TV services.

Commenting on the news, Richard Lindsay-Davies, CEO of the DTG said:
“The DTG has long been a supporter of the wider adoption of HD, giving consumers better quality viewing especially with the average TV screen size in homes increasing over recent years. This is a great step taken by Freeview which will deliver real benefits for UK TV viewers.”

Timeline | Freeview HD

  • 2nd December 2009: Trade transmission tests of Freeview HD commence from the Winter Hill and Crystal Palace transmitters, serving the North West and London.
  • 30th March 2010: The Freeview HD service is officially launched to the general public, with BBC HD, ITV HD and Channel 4 HD the first three channels on the platform. In Wales, the shortlived S4C Clirlun took C4 HD's slot from April 2010. In Central and Northern Scotland, ITV HD is not available; here STV HD launched in June 2010.
  • 3rd November 2010: BBC One HD launches
  • 1st June 2012: Freeview HD picture resolution changes from 1440x1080 to 1920x1080.
  • July-August 2012: Extra Olympic and Paralympic coverage in HD (and 3D for the Olympics) via a temporary extra channel.
  • 2nd December 2012: Channel 4 HD becomes available in Wales after the closure of S4C's Clirlun channel.
  • 26th March 2013: BBC Two HD replaces the BBC HD channel.
  • 13th June 2013: Temporary BBC Red Button HD channel goes live with extra coverage of Wimbledon, Glastonbury, various sports and music events through July and August, ending with a Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special weekend, featuring Doctor Who in 3D on the weekend of 23/24 November 2013.
  • 26th November 2013: The launch of a second Freeview HD multiplex (COM7) at a number of key transmitter sites. The multiplex was rolled out to additional transmitters over the course of the following six months, but only reaches around three quarters of UK households. With the launch of COM7, Al Jazeera HD launches on Freeview.
  • 10th December 2013: The BBC launches BBC Three HD, BBC Four HD, CBBC HD, CBeebies HD and BBC News HD on Freeview, although not all viewers can receive all channels.
  • 18th March 2014:  A temporary Community Channel HD services launches - an upscaled version of the channel.
  • 1st July 2014: 4seven HD and Channel 4+1 HD launch on Freeview.
  • 22nd April 2015: A new Freeview multiplex (COM8) launches, bringing QVC Beauty HD and QVC+1 HD to the platform.
  • 24th September 2015: Freeview announces that all new devices will need to be compatible with Freeview HD by the start of 2017.
  • October 2015: Launch of Freeview Play, a new service combining Freeview HD with connected TV services.
  • January 2016: TVs with screens 32 inches or larger are required to support Freeview HD in order to carry the Freeview logo.
  • 5th January 2016: Russia's international news channel RT HD launches on Freeview HD.
  • 31st March 2016: BBC Three HD removed from the platform, following its closure in February.
  • 4th May 2016: Channel 5 HD launches on Freeview.
  • July/August 2016: Extra HD coverage of the Rio Olympics. BBC Four HD temporarily available to all Freeview HD households for the first time.
  • January 2017: All new devices sold will have to support Freeview HD in order to carry the Freeview logo.

  • 2017-2019: Remaining BBC regions and nations not in HD to become available in HD, according to BBC information issued ahead of the recent Charter renewal. 
  • Second half of 2017-early 2020: Changes to the Freeview service, including frequency changes on a region-by-region basis, culminating in the further adoption of the newer DVB-T2 standard used by Freeview HD devices for the distribution of Freeview channels.