BBC One HD for the nations
We will be launching BBC One HD for Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland over the next few months. I’ll update you with exact dates when we have them confirmed. We are launching them across all of our broadcast platforms so the channels will be available subscription-free on Sky HD, Freeview HD, Virgin Media and Freesat HD at the same position in the EPG where BBC One HD is currently found. As with our other nations and regional channels on satellite, the nations HD services won’t carry audio description. So we will be listing the current version of BBC One HD in the 900s on Sky HD and Freesat HD so that viewers in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland will still be able to access audio description.
If you live in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland, you should find that the service appears automatically from launch if you have an HD satellite or cable service. If you have Freeview HD, you may well find that your TV or set-top-box retunes itself to pick up the channel. If not, you will need to do a re-tune after the new service has launched. Help with this can be found on tvretune.co.uk. Whichever platform you use, if you have scheduled recordings on BBC One HD, please check them after your new national HD service launches to make sure you don’t miss any episodes of your favourite programmes.
When I mentioned in my previous blog that preparations for the launch of these services were underway, a number of readers posted comments querying why the BBC has chosen to launch BBC One HD for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland instead other BBC TV channels in HD. So I thought I’d include an explanation of that in this main post. At its heart, it comes down to striking a balance between the different technical and cost considerations on DTT compared with satellite.
• Technical: On DTT, we are constrained in terms of the space available to launch services in HD, whereas on satellite, the capacity is there…at a price.
• Cost: On satellite, it costs essentially the same to launch an HD service whether it is a pan-UK TV channel, like BBC Three or BBC Four, or a national or regional variant of BBC One HD. However, on DTT, it is somewhat cheaper to launch a national or regional variant, as we tailor the network in that part of the UK to point to the new feed.
So with limited DTT spectrum and limited funds, our expansion of HD has focused on the nations versions of BBC One HD.
One reader pointed out that there are a number of English regions that have larger populations than the nations, and asked why they weren’t prioritised. Population size is one factor we have borne in mind. However, another key factor is the length of time that the BBC One schedule in that part of the UK is different from a “network” feed. For English regions, this time is mostly made up by the regional news bulletins. However, in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the schedule can vary significantly from network particularly in peak time. So this launch of the HD services for the nations will help to make BBC One HD more relevant to its viewers in the nations and more true to the SD service the BBC broadcasts.
One other reader suggested BBC Two HD as a priority, and I’m pleased to confirm that plans announced earlier this year to convert BBC HD into BBC Two HD are progressing towards completion next year.
Finally, some readers were curious to know how we planned to fit BBC HD and four versions of BBC One HD into a single transponder without messing up picture quality. The answer is that we’re not. We have bought a new DVB-S2 transponder (DSat8) alongside the existing DSat4. Each of these transponders will carry two versions of BBC One HD and DSat4 will also carry BBC HD, as it does now. (We are evaluating options for the spare capacity on DSat8.) My esteemed colleagues in BBC Research & Development have put a great deal of painstaking work into the configurations of these two transponders to try to match the picture quality of each version of BBC One HD to the one we have at the moment, and maintain BBC HD’s picture quality, for which I am very grateful.
October 03, 2012
BBC One HD to add three national variants, plus an update on BBC Two HD
From the BBC Blog: