Channel Five in the UK will not be launching a high definition TV service on Freeview before 2012 after failing to give a launch date or programming schedule to the media regulator, Ofcom.
Ofcom said that it would no longer reserve capacity on the service for the broadcaster, which made a loss last year. Five had been unable to “resolve certain key criteria by the end of 2009” asked for by Ofcom, including committing to a launch date for a HD channel and providing satisfactory details and a commitment to a schedule.
The broadcaster had intended to run a selection of its own programming in HD each evening and shows from other suppliers during the day.
Channel 4, which is launching its HD service in the coming weeks, and the Welsh version S4C had also expressed interest to Ofcom in taking the Freeview slot that the media regulator reserved for Five. However, Ofcom also said that Channel 4 and S4C had also not submitted a viable plan.
Ofcom said that the right to use the unreserved capacity now reverts to the BBC, which runs the Freeview multiplex the HD channels are being rolled out on. But Ofcom added that next year it would give commercial broadcasters “another opportunity to provide an additional HD service by 2012”.
“Five is not in a position to take up the fourth Freeview HD channel,” said a spokesman for the broadcaster. “It was always going to be financially challenging to provide the fourth HD service on DTT at a time when all advertising-funded businesses are under considerable pressure. However, we remain committed to launching a HD version of Five and intend to apply for the fifth HD stream when Ofcom advertises it next year. We hope to provide the fifth service on the Freeview HD platform in 2012.”