Five will not appear on Freeview HD before 2012 after the channel failed to satisfy broadcasting watchdog Ofcom that it is fully committed to HD.
The capacity earmarked for the channel will likely go to the BBC, paving the way for an expansion of the Corporation's BBC HD channel.
This week, it emerged the Ofcom recently rejected Five's request for capacity on Freeview's Multiplex B - the frequency band set aside for HD transmissions - because the channel was unable to say when it would begin broadcasting HD content or detail how it plans may good a commitment to maintain a daytime programme schedule.
By law, Ofcom has to assign Freeview HD capacity to non-commercial broadcasters if the bandwidth is not being used by their commercial rivals. The watchdog is believed to have considered handing Five's space to Channel 4 and S4C, but they too were unable to commit to a service that meets Ofcom's criteria. So, by default, the bandwidth will come to the BBC.
Will it make use of the space? In 2012, Ofcom will again allow commercial broadcasters to pitch for HD capacity, so there's the chance that Five - or someone else - will take the excess off the BBC's hands. ®