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High definition TV will become the norm in the UK from January 1st 2017 as the Freeview logo is withdrawn from new SD TVs and set-top boxes.
Guy North, Managing Director of digital terrestrial TV platform Freeview, described the move as “a landmark moment” in the evolution of UK television which would pave the way for further improvements in picture quality, including Ultra HD.
Together with Digital UK, the body which supports the UK’s terrestrial TV service, and the DTG, the industry organisation which promotes digital television and broadcast media in all its forms, Freeview has been working with television manufacturers and retailers to encourage the take-up of HD equipment to deliver the best viewing experience for consumers and a more efficient technical standard. From January 1st 2017, no new standard definition TV equipment will be permitted to use the Freeview logo on products, packaging or on-screen. Freeview is the UK’s most widely used TV service, currently watched in 19 million homes.
The withdrawal of the Freeview logo from new SD products, announced in 2015, has already helped drive a 36 per cent drop in sales of SD TVs while HD sales have surged to make up 80 per cent of the six million TVs sold in the UK every year, according to findings from consumer and market information source GfK.
“Moving Freeview to a fully HD product line-up is a landmark moment for the UK market and continues our track record of striving to deliver the best subscription-free TV service,” commented North. “I’m delighted we are playing our part in making the best picture quality available to everyone and are already gearing up for UHD standards which will be offered in the Freeview Play technical specification from next year.”
Richard Lindsay-Davies, CEO of the DTG added: “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.”
Freeview has boosted its HD channel line up significantly in 2015 with 15 channels now available to the majority of UK viewers. The new channels include Channel 5 HD which launched on LCN 105 in May 2016.
Freeview confirmed that the change applies to new equipment only. Legacy SD equipment will still be able to access Freeview channels. No viewers will experience a loss of service.