ITV1 HD coming to Freeview this year

ITV, far from moping over having to flog Friends Reunited for a £100m loss, is set to launch an HD channel on Freeview — the terrestrial broadcast wotsit — by the end of 2009.

It’s thanks in part to the BBC, which has leased some of its broadcast spectrum bandwidth to ITV. For 50 per cent of you — it’s limited by area, sadly — it means you can expect to receive ITV1 HD in time for next year’s World Cup. Ooh, just think: you’ll see all those overpaid sweaty boys in all their highly defined glory.

Except you won’t, if our HDTV expert Ian Morris is to be believed. “I don’t trust ITV when it comes to picture quality,” he moaned a few moments ago. “ITV has the worst picture quality on freesat. It uses the lowest possible bit rate, and HD just isn’t safe in its hands.”

To find out if he’s correct, you’ll need to buy a new Freeview set-top box. The miserable old standard-def one you’ve already got sucks too much to receive hi-def telly.

If you can’t wait to invest, ITV HD as it exists today is already available exclusively on freesat, the subscription-free satellite TV service launched as a joint venture between ITV and the BBC just over a year ago. Details here.

Incidentally, the BBC is expected to launch its own hi-def Freeview channel later this year, and Ian isn’t excited.

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