BBC announces timetable for Freeview HD signal availability

Monday, November 16th, 2009 
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Today the BBC has confirmed the timetable that will make HD services on Freeview available to 50% of the population in time for next June’s World Cup, and to 98.5% [1] of the population by the end of digital switchover in three years’ time.

In order to bring the benefits of HD on Freeview to as many people as quickly as possible, the Freeview HD rollout has been accelerated with an advance network so that viewers in London, Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds, Bradford and Birmingham receive signals by the end of March 2010.

The majority of viewers will come into coverage at the same time that they go through digital switchover – including viewers in Manchester in December 2009 and those in Cardiff, who will get Freeview HD by the end of March 2010. For the 7% of the UK population who switched before December 2009, a retrofit programme will bring them into coverage before the end of November 2010.

New DVB-T2 technology will deliver an increase in capacity of 67% to the BBC’s Multiplex B, efficiently creating the space needed for UK public service broadcasters’ HD transmissions. The UK will be the first country in the world to launch this new standard, and its successful implementation is the result of pioneering work by the BBC in collaboration with partners including Ofcom, Arqiva, Siemens and receiver manufacturers. To view Freeview HD, audiences will need equipment containing this new technology. Freeview HD receivers (set-top boxes, digital television recorders and integrated televisions) will be available from early 2010.

From January 2010, viewers will be able to use the Freeview website to find out when HD services will be available at their postcode. The BBC is also working closely with Digital UK to ensure that information about Freeview HD is made available as part of digital switchover communications.

Caroline Thomson, the BBC’s chief operating officer, said: “This is a terrific step forward, and it’s a great achievement that the BBC and its partners have been able to work together to overcome some really difficult technical challenges to bring HD to the Freeview platform through world-leading innovation. We’re really excited about the prospect of seeing BBC HD and HD channels from the other public service broadcasters on Freeview next year.”

Ilse Howling, Freeview’s Managing Director, said: “This is great news for the millions of Freeview homes and viewers who are looking forward to getting high definition with no subscription next year.”

Richard Lindsay-Davies, Director General of the Digital TV Group (DTG), the organisation that publishes the technical specification for Freeview and Freeview HD, said: “This is a landmark moment in UK broadcasting history. The launch of Freeview HD consolidates the UK’s position as a global leader in the deployment of digital television services.

While this is a fantastic technical achievement the success of any service is defined by the consumer experience. The World Cup in 2010 will be a key driver for Freeview HD take-up and broadcasters, platform operators and the consumer electronics industry have worked hard to ensure that it can be enjoyed in high definition on the Freeview platform.”

Timetable (Freeview HD signal availability commences at switchover unless otherwise stated):


Area – transmitter group – date

Manchester, Winter Hill, 2 December 2009
London, Crystal Palace, 2 December 2009 – advance network
Newcastle and Tyneside, Pontop Pike, February 2010 – advance network
Leeds/Bradford, Emley Moor, March 2010 – advance network
Birmingham, Lichfield, March 2010 – advance network
Liverpool, central Lancashire, Cheshire, north Staffordshire, Winter Hill relays, March 2010 – retrofit
Exeter, parts of Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Stockland Hill, April 2010 – retrofit
Bristol, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Mendip, April 2010
Devon, Cornwall, and the Isles of Scilly, Beacon Hill, Caradon Hill, Huntshaw Cross, Redruth August 2010 – retrofit
Cumbria and the Lake District, Caldbeck, October 2010 – retrofit

Then Freeview HD rolls out with the rest of the switchover programme, so:

2011 – Bedfordshire, Berkshire (parts), Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, East Anglia, East Midlands, East Yorkshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Humberside, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire (parts), Stoke-on-Trent, West Midlands (remainder), and West Yorkshire (remainder).

2012 – Berkshire (remainder), County Durham, Greater London (remainder), Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, Surrey, Sussex, Teesside, Tyneside.


Cardiff, Newport, Wenvoe, March 2010
Swansea, Kilvey Hill, March 2010 – retrofit
West and central Wales, Blaenplwyf, March 2010
Carmarthenshire, Carmel, April 2010 – retrofit
Rest of Wales, Long Mountain, Moel y Parc, Presely mid-June 2010 – retrofit
Anglesey, Llanddona, July 2010 – retrofit

Wales will have switched over to digital and the roll-out of Freeview HD will be complete by the end of July 2010.


Glasgow, central Scotland, Black Hill, February 2010 – advance network
Shetland, Bressay, May 2010
Orkney, Keelylang Hill, May 2010
Caithness, North Sutherland, Rumster Forest, mid-June 2010
Lewis, Wester Ross, North West Sutherland, Western Isles, Eitshal Skriaig, July 2010
Angus, Dundee, Perth, and parts of Fife, Angus, August 2010
Aberdeenshire, Durris, September 2010
Morayshire, Strathspey, and parts of Easter Ross, Knockmore, October 2010
South West Scotland, Caldbeck Scotland, October 2010
Inverness and the Great Glen, Rosemarkie, October 2010
South West Highlands and Islands, Torosay, October 2010
Scottish Borders, Selkirk, November 2010 – retrofit

Then Freeview HD rolls out with the rest of the switchover programme so that the whole of Scotland is switched over to digital and will be able to receive Freeview HD by the end of Q2, 2011.

Northern Ireland

Freeview HD rolls out with the rest of the switchover programme so that the whole of Northern Ireland is switched over to digital and will be able to receive Freeview HD by the end of 2012.

Other areas

Isle of Man, Douglas, October 2010 – retrofit
Channel Islands, Fremont Point, end 2010

[1] 1.5% of the population are unable to receive any Freeview services; these audience members have the option of using the Freesat service.