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BBC To Broadcast Five Subscription-Free HD Channels

David Dimbleby P
Getty
"Question Time" host David Dimbleby.

The public broadcaster will also broadcast its flagship political discussion program "Question Time" from South Africa in the wake of Nelson Mandela's death.

The BBC said Monday (Dec. 9) it will launch five new subscription-free HD channels for BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC News and kids' channels CBeebies and CBBC.

The public broadcaster said that all five will roll out across Freeview HD and Freesat HD along with YouView, Sky HD and Virgin Media.

Viewers also will be able to catch up on HD programs from these channels on BBC iPlayer, the broadcaster said.

The channels will be launching in time for Christmas, "when families gather together to enjoy some of the best TV from the BBC," according to BBC director general Tony Hall.

All five new HD channels will broadcast the same programs as their standard definition equivalents in HD.

Over 50 percent of homes in the U.K. are already HD enabled, with research estimating that the number of HD homes is expected to grow to over 20 million (80 percent of all U.K. homes) by 2016 and over 23 million homes (90 percent of all U.K. homes) by 2019, the BBC said.

The corporation stated that following the news of Nelson Mandela's death, BBC One's flagship political debate program Question Time will be hosted from Johannesburg Dec. 12.

Regular host David Dimbleby will chair the program from the South African city, and the panel members should be announced "in the near future."

Question Time show editor Nicolai Gentchev said: "With widespread global news coverage and tributes being paid to South Africa's first black president by world leaders and the public alike, we have decided to take Question Time to Johannesburg. It will be a chance to debate Mandela's legacy, South Africa today and the outlook for the continent."

Question Time is produced by Mentorn Media for BBC Scotland and transmits weekly on BBC One.