ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 are about to go HD. The commercial channels have been invited by TV bosses to fill a fifth high-definition slot on Freeview.
Television regulator Ofcom is inviting broadcasters to apply for the extra HD slot on Freeview digital terrestrial TV. The fifth slot will go to a commercial public service broadcaster: either an ITV channel, Channel 4 or Channel 5, or the Welsh Authority.
Interested parties have until October this year to apply. They'll be judged on how their proposed channel will "contribute to enhancing the range and diversity of high quality television services available on Freeview". Red or Black in high definition, anyone?
There are currently four eye-wateringly detailed HD channels: BBC HD, BBC One HD, ITV1 HD and 4HD.
ITV1 is also broadcast in high definition if you pay for it, on Sky and Virgin. We aren't terribly excited about the range of reality programmes, game shows and fly-on-the-wall documentaries offered by ITV, but it does do a good drama. We'd rather get a chance to see Channel 4's range of gritty dramas in hi-def.
High-definition telly eats roughly four times as much space on the spectrum as standard definition, meaning there just aren't enough airwaves for widespread HD.
Ofcom and broadcasters have found room for HD by reorganising existing TV services and compressing video using the more modern MPEG-4 and DVB-T2 standard formats.
Freeview has offered high-definition telly for just over a year, and Ofcom reckons more than 1.8 million Freeview HD boxes have been sold. Around half the country still can't get HD Freeview, but up to 98 per cent of the nation should be covered in the fullness of time as the digital switchover rumbles to completion in 2012.
Whichever company is successful with their bid, the new channel is expected to launch by 1 April 2012.