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ThE MaStEr

Brits not buying into Freeview HD

85% of HD TVs bought this summer can't tune into the service

By Tony Smith •

7th October 2010 11:19 GMT

Freeview today claimed that Brits have bought more that 60 million receivers, DVRs and TVs capable of picking up the free-to-air terrestrially broadcast transmissions it's responsible for marketing.

But the news is rather less impressive when it comes to the organisation's HD offering.

Freeview was quick to compare the take-up of the Freeview HD service with that of satellite broadcaster Sky, stating that both services clocked up the same number of households - around 230,000 - in their respective first five months in operation.

But while Freeview HD launched in 2010, Sky HD debuted four years ago, a time when there were far fewer HD TVs around and punters were just getting used to digital TV and the upcoming analogue switch-off.

And since then Freesat has notched up a presence in 1.25 million households as of June 2010.

Nowadays, then, HD ought to be an easier sell - so why has Freeview HD been relatively unsuccessful?

For a start, it's currently being broadcast to only 55 per cent of the UK population, and features a mere three channels, soon to be four when the BBC begins simulcasting BBC One in HD alongside its current BBC HD showcase channel.

That may explain why 85 per cent of all the HD TVs sold this past summer did not incorporate a Freeview HD tuner, by Freeview HD's own admission

This year, ten transmitters have begun beaming out Freeview HD in England in addition to the two activated late last year. A thirteenth, Caldbeck, serving Cumbria and the Lake District, goes live this month.

That leaves plenty of the UK still unserved, with the roll-out timetable extending out into 2012 if you live in parts of Berkshire and Greater London, or in County Durham, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, Surrey, Sussex, Teesside and Tyneside.

Folk in Northern Ireland may have to wait as long, though all of Scotland will be covered by the end of 2010 Q2 2011. Wales already is covered in its entirety.

Maybe this will aid sales in the run-up to Christmas, as will a greater number of Freeview HD sets in shop shelves. Sony has Freeview HD kit out quickly, but it's taken some vendors longer to make their Freeview HD models widely available. There are now more than one hundred models of Freeview HD TV available, the organisation claimed.

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