BBC launches public value test for high definition

The BBC Trust, the body tasked with leading BBC strategy and representing licence-fee payers, says it will investigate the need for a permanent high definition channel.

The Trust has confirmed today that it will carry out a Public Value Test (PVT) into a BBC HD channel following an application by the BBC Executive.

The PVT will begin on May 21 when documentation – including the BBC Executive’s application for approval of the new service, terms of reference for Ofcom’s Market Impact Assessment and a timetable for the process – will be published.

The Trust expects to publish its final decision by 21 November.

At its meeting yesterday, the Trust gave permission for the BBC’s ongoing HD trial to be extended until the end of the PVT process.

The body was put in place by former BBC chairman Michael Grade to replace the corporation’s board of directors. Its task is to decide on “strategically significant” decisions or those worth more than £50m.

The BBC was part of a trial by the terrestrial broadcasters delivering high definition content via Freeview. The broadcaster along with the other members of the HDforAll consortium, are lobbying media regulator Ofcom and government to allow Freeview to air HD channels after the completion of digital switchover in 2012. Currently, only pay-TV platforms, such as Sky and cable, are able to air HD channels.

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