Following the July award by UK regulator Ofcom to communications infrastructure and media services company Arqiva of the two new HD Digital Terrestrial TV multiplexes in the 600MHz band in July 2013, the company has confirmed that international news and current affairs channel Al Jazeera English HD will be available to over 50 per cent of UK households, including coverage in all nations, in time for Christmas. This builds on the recent announcement by the BBC that it will launch five new HD channels by early 2014.
Digital terrestrial platform Freeview reports that one third of its DTT homes are now able to watch many of their TV favourites in HD. Analysts predict that this will increase to over 80 per cent penetration by 2018.
Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera English said: “Our partnership with Arqiva lets us provide the highest quality journalism with the highest quality picture and technical standards. This means our viewers will have an even clearer picture of our in-depth eyewitness reporting from our 70 bureaus across the globe, and of our documentaries and programmes on the issues that matter to people in the UK.”
According to Mike Finchen, Director of Digital Platforms at Arqiva, audiences today demand more and higher quality content. “We believe these new HD channels will provide a major impetus to the continued and strong uptake of Freeview HD TVs. This is an exciting first step in the launch of more HD channels on Freeview.”
Arqiva has confirmed that broadcast coverage of the new HD multiplexes will extend to 70 per cent of all UK households in time for the Wimbledon tennis championmships, by June 2014.
The 600 MHz spectrum, which covers the range 550 to 606 MHz, was cleared of analogue TV on a region-by-region basis during the UK’s digital TV switchover. This programme, delivered successfully by Arqiva, completed last year.