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United Kingdom: Channel 4, ITV Licensed to launch HD

Ofcom, which functions similar to the FCC in America, recently granted HD licenses to Britain's Channel 4 and ITV (independent) to permit digital HD broadcasting in various venues, including Freeview, a free-to-air service. The formal step by Ofcom signifies that popular programs and sports that sport should be available in HD in some regions of the United Kingdom by the end of 2009.

Similar government HD licensing already has occurred for the BBC and Ofcom has indicated it also plans to grant licensing for a fourth HD service, but that venue would not start up until probably 2010 at the earliest.

Channel 4 already provides an HD service on BSkyB, the DBS system. There are about 17 million U.K. households that have Freeview access that will be required to upgrade their set-top boxes for the growing menu of HD channels.