There’s hope for Freeview HD
Freeview HD will happen. Two things convince me of this.
1) Sky is planning to launch a subscription package on UK DTT. It will use MPEG-4. This is ground breaking for digital broadcasting in the UK and having active transmissions which aren’t in MPEG-2 will show that two transmission systems can live side-by-side. MPEG-4 makes the prospect of HD on Freeview much more realistic as it’s far more efficient.
The Sky initiative means a new set top box for anyone wanting to receive the new transmissions. Having new decoders in the market brings forward the time when all DTT transmissions will be in MPEG-4.
This may be years away, but Ofcom should mandate that all UK receivers bought after a certain period should be capable of decoding more than just MPEG-2. There is some evidence to suggest that the market just expects this to happen anyway, look at the very end of this submission to the House of Commons.
I’m surprised by Sky’s decision to remove its existing Freeview channels. Previously they were partly a marketing mechanism for Sky’s subscription packages. If there’s no Sky presence at all on Freeview, it’s hard to see how they would get the interest of the millions of people who watch on that platform.
Unless of course Sky has worked out that it’s simply not worth it, so you may as well use the bandwidth for something which might make money.