UK HD market 'grows to 160,000 households'

BSkyB's high-definition television service is estimated to have signed up 140,000 customers by the end of 2006. Screen Digest's Vincent Letang told the Financial Times that with an estimated 20,000 high-definition ntl:Telewest set-top boxes in the market the total UK HD base stood at 160,000 at the end of the year. Both HD services launched last year.

At the same time there are now an estimated 2.4m HD-ready screens in homes across the country. Letang told the FT that people were buying screens "primarily because they are flat", a view echoed by Deloitte's research director Paul Lee, who said HD screen purchases were principally "for the ostentatious element of it".

Last month terrestrial broadcasters, TV manufacturers and retailers called on the Government to ensure that spectrum is set aside for high-definition television (HDTV) on the UK's fast-growing Freeview platform. Media regulator Ofcom wants the market to decide which services should get access to spectrum liberated from switching off an*alogue transmitters, with an auction planned for 2008.