Now on Freeview HD: Olympic arts channel that's tough to watch

And tough to argue why anyone would want to watch

Freeview HD got a new channel this morning, which will be filled with events from the Cultural Olympiad as well as the occasional Hitchcock film and the usual arts nonsense.

The Space sits on channel 117, which puts it into the IP-streamed channels only available to kit conforming to the letter and spirit of the Freeview HD standard. It will also stream to a computer or an Apple iThing, and serve up content including Globe-performances of Shakespeare and a couple of Hitchcock silents restored by the British Film Institute.

The channel is funded from £3.5m of lottery dosh, via the Arts Council, and on the website punters can already watch the first of 26 shows of John Peel's record collection from A to Z.

The Space will run until October as part of the Cultural Olympiad - an arty hotchpotch of stuff that is supposed to make us all feel good about this year's British Olympics. But if you don't fancy Titus Andronicus in Cantonese, or an animation showing someone switching a light on (and then off again) for a minute and a half, then you'll have to wait for something more interesting to turn up.

For the Freeview transmissions The Space is relying on technical support from the BBC. Content from the channel conforms to Freeview HD not by being high definition but rather in using the MHEG video streaming part of that standard - as already deployed by China Central Television and Sports Tonight.

Only a minority of Freeview kit supports that part of the standard properly, and only a proportion of that minority is plugged into a broadband connection, but it's an expanding number and points towards the distant day when broadcast television is made redundant by streamed services even if YouView can't get its act together. ®

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