The ABC has today confirmed planning is underway to provide a High Definition version of its main broadcast channel.
In an interview with Michael Bodey for the The Australian, ABC Director of Television Richard Finlayson confirmed the ABC would launch the ABC HD service in June 2016. The announcement makes the ABC the second network to confirm its HD strategy since the Federal Government changed legislation that previously required each network to provide an SD version of its main channel. SBS has been the only FTA network to consistently provide a HD version of its main channel since 2006. The ABC has not provided a HD version of its main channel since the launch of ABCNews24 in mid 2010.
The move to High Definition for the main channel, means ABCNews24 will be switched to an SD Feed. A significant percentage of news packages are currently edited in standard definition to save on production resources, meaning its unlikely many viewers of ABCNews24 will notice the downgrade in broadcast quality.
The ABC is yet to confirm if will continue to provide an SD version of its main channel, but this would seem likely as the public broadcaster has previously expressed concern regarding excluding the small percentage of the population that have SD only TV equipment. The article in The Australian also reveals the ABC plans to provide a live stream of its main channel, which will launch this December.
A spokesperson for the ABC was unable to confirm if the new ABC HD service will be broadcast in a 720 or 1080 format, or if the channel will be broadcast via Mpeg2 or Mpeg4. Full details of the changes next week as part of its 2016 Upfronts announcements
The move means Seven and Ten are the only networks yet to outline their HD strategy. The Nine Network will provide its main channel in HD from November 26th. Next month will see Ten broadcast the much-publicised Big Bash cricket competition. Ten has confirmed it will broadcast every game live nationally, but will only provide coverage on its ONEHD channel in select states to avoid time zone clashes with The Project. The Seven Network has been consistently criticised for not broadcasting AFL in HD.