U.K.: Ofcom Reveals Plans for Terrestrial HD

Ofcom, Britain’s equivalent of the FCC, has signaled its intentions for terrestrial HD allocations, and the BBC and consumer electronics makers will not be pleased.

Ofcom officials, speaking at various functions in the past few weeks, are voicing approval of the idea that up to four HD channels can be created on the United Kingdom’s existing digital terrestrial network. Ofcom is now expected to oversee a partial redistribution of digital spectrum, possibly by incorporating some MPEG-4 or DVB-T2 video compression, according to HDTV UK.

The HD plans by Ofcom, which have not yet been officially announced, cut against the grain of an ongoing campaign (“HD for All”) by some major elements of the broadcast and CE industries that are pushing to free up spectrum now being used for analog broadcasting in order to deliver HD content through Freeview, the free terrestrial channel. The final digital transition in Britain is set for 2012.

Under the current scenario being favored by Ofcom, the analog spectrum could be auctioned off for various other services, such as mobile and interactive TV, as well as broadband. Ofcom thinks making money off the valuable spectrum makes more sense economically for British taxpayers than giving it away for free to broadcasters for HD purposes (as was the case in America, although the United States has no specific federal stipulations requiring HD content).