May 17, 2008

Channel 4 HD - where's the HD?

Like all V+ customers, I'm getting increasingly frustrated with the wait for C4 HD content. Late last year, when the channel was launched on Sky, we were told that Virgin had secured the rights to the C4 HD as both a linear channel and for video on demand. Almost six months later and we're still waiting.
It may be a delay because of bandwidth restrictions. It may be because C4 itself isn't truly free-to-air quite just yet. It may be a technology restraint. It's most likely just not a priority in the days of marketing "super fast" broadband and "Mix It Up TV". Whatever. I feel like I'm still waiting for my last 2007 Christmas present...
But before we take to the streets burning effigies of Neil Berkett, have you seen what's actually showing in HD over on Channel 4? Pardon my french, but absolutely bugger all - six months after launch and there's still only a couple of films and a handful of US imports in HD. No homegrown HD programming whatsoever next week and, given that C4 has recently announced they're cutting back on the US stuff and focusing on UK programmes, that's pretty worrying.
In fact, Skins apart, I cannot recall any HD from these shores on C4 in 2008. Shameless? No. Peep Show? No. Even the weekly overstuffing of Ramsay and Oliver cookery entertaining, which uses very few cameras and can look sumptuous in HD, is still being shot in standard definition. Even I can pop down to John Lewis, buy myself an HD camcorder and make a better hash of it.
And because the HD channel's a C4 simulcast, HD shot shows on E4, More 4 and Film Four have no HD outlet whatsoever. Think how great an HD showcase taking the best of all four Four channels could be. But even on C4 new series of US imports like Smallville and ER , shot in HD but still being shown over here in SD, it's pathetically weak when compared to Sky One HD or even the often-maligned BBC HD.
Virgin Media should broadcast C4 HD as a priority to make a statement of intent with high definition services for its customers, but Channel 4 needs to make a similar statement by making an effort and delivering what it says on the tin: high definition programming.
Come on, chaps...before Christmas 2008 is upon us...

1 comment:

Nialli said...

Further to this, C4 has now announced pretty much all US imports will be shown on the (non-HD) E4. Digital Spy reports: Kevin Lygo, director of television at Channel 4, said the situation meant it was now focusing its acquisitions on the digital-only channel.

Lygo was speaking ahead of the LA Screenings, at which broadcasters from around the world will be looking to pick up rights to US shows in development for the coming year.

"Unless there is a show that is transformational, we won't be buying for the main channel," he said.

"E4 gobbles up acquired shows, so we'll be looking for comedy and drama that is right for the E4 audience."