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Freeview to get fifth HD channel, possibly by Christmas 2011

Following successful beta testing by BBC Free to View Limited, Ofcom is inviting the other public service broadcasters: ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, S4C, UTV and STV to apply for the fifth slot.

Following successful beta testing by BBC Free to View Limited,
published on UK Free TV

The BBC have undergone extensive subjective user testing with "a variety of HD content" and have concluded that the new version of the MPEG-4 (H.264) encoding software used for the Freeview HD multiplex can now handle five channels, up from the current four.

The material tested included:

  • A loop of critical Saturday night programming, including very difficult to code sequences from BBC programmes;
  • A combination of different sequences from the other Relevant PSBs;
  • Live content;
  • HD content from the last Olympics;
  • Very hard to code sequences on four and then all five channels.

Ofcom is now satisfied that five HD services can be run on the "BBCB" DVB-T2 multiplex by spring 2012, and possibly before Christmas 2011. This is in line with Ofcom's original plan for Freeview HD.

The possible channels that are currently broadcasting could be one from ITV: ITV2 HD, ITV3 HD, ITV4 HD; one from Channel 4: E4 HD, Film4 HD; one from Channel 5: Channel 5 HD.

The other possible applicants are S4C, which is unlikely given the broadcasters funding crisis, STV and UTV have no broadcasting HD channels.

Most of the above HD channels are under "exclusive" contracts with Sky, with the exception of Film4 HD which is "exclusive" to Virgin Media. Five HD was assessed by the regulators as unsuitable for Freeview HD last year.

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Comments
Monday, 24 October 2011
D
David
sentiment_satisfiedGold

8:40 PM

Brian I said slightly better on HD than SD, maybe you got a better TV set.
Sound well why not do the SD sound at non compressed then and get a better experience on all programs.

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David's 306 posts GB flag
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
Briantist
sentiment_very_satisfiedOwner

7:56 AM

David: Yes, you probably need a better set.

The sound on SD matches that used for analogue where the compression is used to deal with the poorer performance of analogue.

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Briantist's 38,910 posts GB flag
D
David
sentiment_satisfiedGold

10:19 AM

Not buying one, if I was to decide to would be lost on how to choose one.
Regarding sound most of us have no analogue now soon none will have can we expect the the SD sound to be same as HD sound?

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David's 306 posts GB flag
M
Mike Dimmick
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

12:02 PM

Briantist: I'd dispute that MPEG Audio Layer 2 audio is better than NICAM 728. Equivalent, possibly, at 256 kbps (the rate the BBC use) but not at 128 kbps as many of the commercial channels use.

Legacy mono audio was FM with a permitted deviation of plus/minus 50 kHz.

Freeview HD audio is AAC-LC (low complexity MPEG-4 Advanced Audio Codec) and I don't know what the bitrate is. Ofcom guessed, for the Second Invitation To Apply, that 192-384 kbps would be used, but bear in mind that this is for 5.1 audio rather than stereo. AAC is generally considered to require half the bitrate of MP3 for the same quality, and MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3) itself substantially less than Layer 2.

The *volume* of the audio is nothing to do with it. Layer 2 and AAC can handle the same dynamic range. Indeed they work by hiding noise caused by low dynamic range - caused by saving bits - behind loud sounds. A loud sound at one frequency means that whole sub-band can be encoded with fewer bits.

As I understand it, differences in volume are generally caused by the downmix of 5.1 audio for stereo output. The audio stream carries metadata to tell the receiver what parts of which channel to combine to produce an output only for the front speakers. The crude version is of course to just take the front-left and front-right channels, omitting the contribution from rear-left, rear-right, front-centre and bass channels.

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Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB flag
Briantist
sentiment_very_satisfiedOwner

2:23 PM

Mike Dimmick: Sorry, when I said "analogue" I meant "analogue" and not NICAM.

The SD sound levels are as they are because they as designed to be the same as the monophonic PAL system.

The information about the relative levels that the BBC use for their HD services was provided to me directly by the BBC and it has nothing to do with a "downmix", just the removal of dynamic range compression.

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Briantist's 38,910 posts GB flag
Briantist
sentiment_very_satisfiedOwner

2:46 PM

David: The BBC will probably review the situation on 24th October 2012.

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Briantist's 38,910 posts GB flag
Monday, 31 October 2011
H
Huw Radley
3:34 PM

Just bough a top end Panasonic 37inch LCD which has Freesat and Freeview HD.. but the Freeview HD reception is hopeless to non existent I have a new high gain aerial aimed at Crystal Palace. I have now learned on line there are problems there with HD transmission that will not be solved until 2012.- very disappointing. I was on the pointof also buying a Humax Freeviw HD PVR- lucky i did not because this would suffer the same problem. SD transmissions are fine -100% strength and quality. I fortunately also have Freesat dish which looks like its the only way to receive HD in the near future. Its pretty poor the Freeview site does not publish what is going on and what is not. Their HD location checker indicates we would be fine but.....

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Huw Radley's 1 post GB flag
D
David
sentiment_satisfiedGold

5:06 PM

If the TV is not right return it, and go buy one that will get you the Freeview HD, if you should be able to recieve it.

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David's 306 posts GB flag
D
David
sentiment_satisfiedGold

5:35 PM

Just done a Google and came up with this,
Crystal Palace TV Transmitter, London Freeview DTT Digital Channels
So is it your TV that will not recieve this new DVB-T2 and my advice to return the TV would fit, or maybe your aerial is not a correct one and you should get the installer back.
( My experience of upgrades from Panasonic is not a good one.)

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David's 306 posts GB flag
Briantist
sentiment_very_satisfiedOwner

5:39 PM

Huw Radley: Can you please provide a full postcode?

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Briantist's 38,910 posts GB flag
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