Driving its rollout of free-to-air HD in the UK, broadcast infrastructure and media services company Arqiva is to make Al Jazeera English HD available to over half of the nation’s homes by Christmas 2013.
Since its launch in 2006, the international news and current affairs channel broadcasts to over 260 million households across 130 countries, and its arrival on the Freeview digital terrestrial TV (DTT) platform is a coup for both the channel and the network provider.
“Our partnership with Arqiva lets us provide the highest quality journalism with the highest quality picture and technical standards,” said managing director of Al Jazeera English, Al Anstey. “This means our viewers will have an even clearer picture of our in-depth eyewitness reporting from our 70 bureaus across the globe, and of our documentaries and programmes on the issues that matter to people in the UK.”
The move by Al Jazeera is the latest in the arrival of HD content to UK DTT since Arqiva was awarded two new HDTV DTT multiplexes in the 600MHz band by UK broadcast regulator Ofcom in July 2013. Over a third of Freeview homes are currently able to watch HDTV channels and it is likely that this will increase to over 80% penetration by 2018. Arqiva has confirmed that broadcast coverage of the new HD multiplexes will extend to 70% all UK households by June 2014.
Commenting on moves, Mike Finchen, director of digital platforms at Arqiva, said: “Audiences today demand more and higher quality content. We believe these new HD channels will provide a major impetus to the continued and strong uptake of Freeview HD TVs. This is an exciting first step in the launch of more HD channels on Freeview.”