The new channels will be subscription free and offered to all digital television platforms that carry HD channels.
At launch the channels will broadcast on satellite and digital terrestrial platforms. BBC Three HD and CBBC HD will use capacity on the BBC’s existing HD multiplex, which has 98.5% coverage of UK homes. BBC News HD, BBC Four HD and CBeebies HD will use new HD capacity, established by Arqiva on the 600 MHz band.
BBC Director-General, Tony Hall, said: “BBC One HD and BBC Two HD have already proved to be highly valued by our audiences and I’m delighted that we’re able to follow this with the launch of five new subscription-free BBC HD channels by early 2014. These new channels will allow us to showcase more of our programming at its very best.”
The new licence, issued to Arqiva by Ofcom, was awarded following an open application process, which took place earlier in the year. The licence is effective immediately and has been awarded for a minimum period of five years.
The 600 MHz spectrum, which covers the range 550 to 606 MHz, was cleared of analogue TV on a region-by-region basis during the UK’s digital TV switchover.
The BBC is also working on plans for English regional HD versions of BBC One HD and BBC Two HD for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. A proposal will be put to the BBC Trust later in the year.