The long wait is (almost) over – and after 12 years and many delays, BBC One HD is finally expanding the roll-out of regional news in High Definition across England, for Freeview, YouView, Freesat and Sky.
This means those red screens that tell you to switch to the SD channel for your regional news on BBC One HD – will finally be going away.
The roll-out will be gradual, but the BBC aims for it to be complete by April 2023.
Last year, a partial roll-out of HD local news began, but only for certain internet-connected devices.
But while originally the roll-out to the rest of the platforms was due to begin this year – the BBC postponed it to 2023. Today, the BBC finally announced that the switch is indeed coming soon.
BBC One HD launched as a separate channel back in 2010. A few years later, regional programming (which mainly consists of regional news broadcasts) also became available in HD – but only in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The promise of regional HD news for viewers in England has been around for years – but BBC One HD viewers were still stuck with the red warning screen that prompted them to switch to BBC One (SD) to watch their regional news.
As it stands, once the regional programmes (such as the evening news) are done, the regular broadcast returns to BBC One HD.
Currently, the BBC airs local news bulletins from several distinct regions – London, South West (Channel Island), East Midlands, West Midlands and more.
When the BBC announced the postponement back in March, they said that upgrading regional news to HD requires “Significant infrastructure changes”, which is why a phased approach is being implemented.
Since Freeview channels – including the BBC – on devices such as Sky Glass and Sky Stream are streamed via the internet, and not via an aerial – it was easier for the BBC to implement the new HD changes, on those types of devices first.
BBC Regional HD News Coming In 2023
The regional versions of BBC One HD for Freeview and YouView will all be made available by April 2023 – by then, viewers will find the correct version of BBC One HD for their region on Freeview Channel 101 (the SD version will still be available on Freeview Channel 1).
More details on the actual timelines for each region’s Freeview / YouView roll-out will be published by the BBC at a later date.
On Freesat and Sky’s satellite-based devices, the BBC aims to start the roll-out in mid-January 2023, and it should also be finished by April 2023.
For Freesat and Sky, the BBC is also planning to complete the HD upgrade of the rest of its channels – adding HD versions of BBC Two Northern Ireland, BBC ALBA and BBC Parliament.
At that point, SD versions of the BBC’s channels on Freesat will be shut down.
Kieran Clifton, BBC Director of Distribution said: “By Spring next year, viewers in England will be able to receive BBC One HD for their region and not have to tune away to watch their local news and programming.
“This, coupled with upgrades to BBC channels that aren’t currently available on some devices in HD, will mean viewers will get a more easily accessible, better quality experience when watching BBC programmes from early next year.”