I’m really pleased that the BBC will be embarking on the next stage of our HD journey at 6am on Tuesday 26 March 2013 with the launch of BBC Two HD. BBC Two HD will be a simulcast of the standard definition version of BBC Two that is broadcast in England, and its launch means that you’ll be able to watch the BBC’s two most popular TV channels in glorious HD. I’ve set out below some guidance on how to access the new HD channel, and also some advice about any series recordings you may have set up on BBC HD, and I hope you will find these helpful.

Of course, it’s not a perfect world, and there are a couple of issues that may be on your mind, so I thought you’d appreciate it if first I tackled them head on.

Viewers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (and indeed some English viewers) may be disappointed that we are, regrettably, unable to offer the full BBC Two schedule for those nations in HD. This is essentially to do with our need to prioritise our investment in HD as we take each step forward, because we can’t afford to do everything we might like to do. Just to be clear, it’s worth my saying that the broadcast in standard definition of BBC Two Scotland, BBC Two Wales and BBC Two Northern Ireland will be unaffected by this launch.

I also understand that some of you will be disappointed to see the end of BBC HD. To make the launch of BBC Two HD affordable, the proposal put forward by BBC management and agreed by the BBC Trust under Delivering Quality First was to use BBC HD’s broadcasting capacity to launch BBC Two HD.

BBC HD will close down in the very early hours of 26 March 2013 but will always have a special place in the BBC’s history as the first HD TV channel we launched. It began as a trial service in 2006 and since then has played an important role offering the best of the BBC in HD. It’s also been the means for us to broadcast 3D programmes as part of the BBC’s 3D trial over the past couple of years.

I can assure you that we have some brilliant minds working on the tricky question of how to find an affordable way to broadcast HD programmes that are scheduled on BBC Three, BBC Four, CBeebies and CBBC. I will update you as and when we have more news. Some of you may have seen the press release earlier this year that announced the Doctor Who 50th

anniversary special in 3D this autumn. As the press release explained, our intention is to broadcast it using the BBC’s HD capacity, and I will give you more details on our plan later this year.


What do I need to do to get BBC Two HD?

The latest surveys tell us that people living in nearly half of the UK’s 26 million homes are able to watch TV in HD, including the BBC’s HD channels.

To watch the BBC’s HD channels in HD you need an HD TV display, and also an HD digibox if your TV doesn’t have an HD tuner built in. Many HD TVs available today have a Freeview HD receiver built in; some also have a Freesat HD receiver built in. These then use an aerial or dish to pick up the BBC’s free-to-air terrestrial or satellite broadcasts, which both cover 98% to 99% of UK homes. If your HD TV doesn’t have an HD receiver built in then you’ll also need an HD digibox. There are a range of these available from Freeview HD/YouView, Freesat HD, Sky HD, Virgin Media and BT Vision+ (the last two of which require a connection to the network provided by the company).

You don’t need to pay a subscription to access the BBC’s HD channels because they are free-to-air (with the exception of Virgin Media and BT Vision’s multicast platform, where there is a monthly charge to access their networks).

If you can already receive BBC HD, you shouldn’t have to do anything particularly taxing to receive BBC Two HD. Some of you will get it without needing to make any intervention. At most you may need to do a retune or turn your receiver off and on again. I’ve given some advice below which has been tailored to the different TV platforms you may use.

You’ll also need to know which channel number to tune in to. This table shows where you will be able to find the BBC’s HD channels from 26 March 2013:



In most cases, BBC Two HD will use the same channel number as BBC HD. However, Sky HD viewers will see that we are moving to two new numbers, which allows us to put BBC One HD and BBC Two HD next to each other. (We will also move BBC ALBA to 143 on Sky so that it is grouped with other BBC channels.)

If for some reason you do have a problem, here’s what you should do, depending on which platform you use to receive your HD channels:

  • If you have Freeview HD or YouView your receiver may well pick up the changes automatically but you may need to do a retune. Digital UK’s TV retune website gives advice on how to retune.
  • If you have Sky, you should not have to do anything. If you do have a problem receiving any of our channels, you can try unplugging your SkyHD set top box, waiting 30 seconds and plugging it back in again. If that doesn’t resolve your problem it’s best to contact Sky on 08442 411 653
  • If you have Virgin Media BBC Two HD should appear automatically.
  • If you have Freesat HD and you do not pick up BBC Two HD automatically, you may need to put your digital box or TV into standby for 30 seconds and then switch it back on again. If the channels are still unavailable then carry out a 'Freesat channel retune'. Full instructions can be found in the manual for your digital TV or box. Further help with retuning can be found at www.freesat.co.uk or by calling the Freesat customer support team on 08450 990 990.
  • If you have BT Vision+ it may take a while for the channel logo to update on your electronic programme guide from BBC HD to BBC Two HD, but the channel itself should be BBC Two HD.  You can find more help and assistance here.


How will my BBC HD series recordings be affected?

I want to say a few words about what happens to any series recordings you may have set up on the BBC HD channel. I’ll take this in two parts – series recordings of programmes that are commissioned for BBC Two, and series recordings of programmes that are commissioned for other channels (ie, BBC Three, BBC Four, CBeebies and CBBC).


BBC Two series

BBC HD currently broadcasts a number of BBC Two shows and so you might already have series recordings for some BBC Two programmes in HD set-up via the BBC HD channel.  For most people these will continue to work after BBC Two HD launches.  If you have series links for programmes on BBC Two SD you might like to replace them with bookings for the show on BBC Two HD (although they will take up more recording space).

However, because we have to make a small change, Virgin Media viewers should be aware of the following:

  • If you have a Virgin Media TiVo box then you don't need to worry about the change, your series should continue to be recorded as normal.
  • If on the other hand you have a V+HD box then you’ll need to set up recordings for the following series again after 26 March (other series will not be affected): Eggheads, Newsnight, Great British Menu, Mastermind and The Culture Show.



Other series

Most BBC Three and all BBC Four series that are shown on BBC HD will come to an end before BBC HD closes, so you’re unlikely to be in the situation of missing the end of the series if you have chosen to record it in HD, but please do check to be on the safe side. The two exceptions are In the Flesh and Bluestone 42, for which you will need to set up recordings on BBC Three in order to catch the end of the series. I’m afraid that, until we are able to broadcast BBC Three and BBC Four and the children’s channels in HD, you’ll need to record programmes in standard definition after 26 March.

If you are worried about your series recordings, the safest thing to do after 26 March is to check that your series recordings are still picking up new episodes of your favourite shows.

* * *

I’ve spent a fair bit of time above talking about how to deal with issues you may encounter, or explaining why we aren’t able to offer more programmes in HD at this point. I hope you find this blog helpful as a result.

But I also don’t want to detract from what I see as a positive step forward in the BBC’s HD journey. We are proud to be reaching this milestone of bringing our second most popular channel into a fuller HD existence. So while we wish a fond farewell to BBC HD and thank it for a job well done, I hope you will enjoy saying hello to BBC Two HD. 


Alix Pryde is Director, BBC Distribution

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  • Comment number 72. Posted by johnk

    on 8 Apr 2013 18:28

    Arne Dahl in SD, Newsnight in HD. Someone's idea of progress.

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  • Comment number 71. Posted by DVDfever

    on 7 Apr 2013 11:42

    So much for BBC2HD. Last night, BBC2 showed the most appalling SD 16:9-cropped print of Shout at the Devil. The original ratio is 2.35:1, but this print looked like it had been buried underground since it was originally filmed(!)

    Wasted time that could've been spent showing some BBC3/4 content in HD, which isn't getting any HD airings at present.

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  • Comment number 70. Posted by Geoff103

    on 5 Apr 2013 10:41


    I know the Wimbledon example didn't happen. I was just trying to draw an analogy that would be readily understood.

    The fact that Borgen and the other BBC4 material is a minority taste doesn't alter the essentials of the analogy.

    In any event, Borgen attracted a pretty big 'minority'. One million viewers I read somewhere. And the BBC seems to think these foreign language imports can be used to burnish their reputation for quality as their PR people have been promoting them to the print media very widely. I've read long articles in The Times, Telegraph and Guardian about the new purchases for BBC 4 for the rest of the year.

    The overnight option for transmitting on the BBC2 HD channel is so obvious a one that its exclusion must be seen as a deliberate act of disdain for the viewer or sublime management incompetence.

    I doubt anyone who was a fan of these programmes (and others in HD on BBC4) would have objected since I guess most would have and use their PVR to record them. Personally, I use my Freesat Recorder for everything I want to watch on all domestic channels and never watch at the schedule hour, whether BBC, ITV or Channel 4 (in most cases for personal convenience and the rest to avoid the ad-breaks)

    I doubt I am alone in this and it will surely become the new paradigm for a substantial segment of the audience

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  • Comment number 69. Posted by derek500

    on 5 Apr 2013 10:36

    @lotrjw It's a fact that the HD simulcasts of the BBC Four foreign language dramas outrated the majority of BBC Two HD simulcasts on the BBC HD channel.

    So if the BBC were going for the popular vote, these at least, should be put on iPlayer in HD or found a repeat slot on BBC Two.

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  • Comment number 68. Posted by lotrjw

    on 5 Apr 2013 10:03

    Geoff103 your example about Wimbledon didn't happen as Wimbledon is very popular. Borgen is no where near as popular as Wimbledon, so that's why its on a channel that gets lower ratings. However I do think for the sake of people like yourself, the DQF channel sharing should have been up and running from day 1 of BBC 2 HD, with all HD programs from BBC3 on BBC1 overnight (yes that would mean less BBC News simulcast) and all HD programs from BBC4 on BBC2 overnight instead of the preview loop. This would have pleased more people as the overnight BBC News is on the BBC News channel and everyone who can watch BBC channels in this county has access to BBC News channel!

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  • Comment number 67. Posted by Geoff103

    on 5 Apr 2013 08:19

    To the previous three posters; What irritates even further is the distinct lack of any interrest by BBC management in either changing the approach or of answering in anything like a sensible manner the points that have been raised.

    It's as plain as a pikestaff that the BBC likes to parade its foreign language imports such as Borgen to add to their 'quality' credentials. The media have been carrying the results of their PR work over the these purchases in recent weeks. Without at any time mentioning that this time round there'll be no HD offering of this HD material that was for earlier episodes of these series not only available but almost certainly a contributory factor in winning viewers for them.

    And what do we get on BBC2HD in their place (not literally in the same time slots) but repeats of old SD series like 'Dad's Army' broadcast in parallel with the BBD2 SD channel.

    It's as if when colour television began, the BBC used tennis from Wimbledon to launch the service, secure an audience, help persuade thousands if not millions to switch from a B&W set to colour, then the next year confine Wimbledon coverage to a B&W channel while using the colour channel for a season of repeats of WWII B&W films.

    The studious disregard for the section of license fee payers who have been denied the chance of continuing to watch favourite dramas and other HD programming from BBC4 and BBC3 is staggering.

    Supposedly this is all in the cause of costs savings of some £2m a year. A sum easily achieved by taking a few feathers from the financial cushions that Senior executives sit on. And not giving golden parachutes to exDGs who lasted less than three months in post.

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  • Comment number 66. Posted by DVDfever

    on 4 Apr 2013 22:41

    Paddy (comment 62), and no doubt others, sum up my feelings about the lack of BBC3/4 HD content now that BBC HD is no more. It's a farce that no plans were put in place to at least put the HD programmes on Iplayer NOW rather than "by the end of the year". I could ask for this to be reconsidered/speed up, but the BBC have made their decision and they don't care.

    What will happen about foreign dramas like Borgen Series 3? If it's anything like Arne Dahl, it'll be left to languish in SD hell. A very poor do.

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  • Comment number 65. Posted by lotrjw

    on 4 Apr 2013 20:03

    nickc909 I know you said you wont post on this site again but I hope you read this.
    Moving from BBC HD to BBC 2 HD I believe does save the BBC money as they have one less playout suite as there is just one playout suite for BBC2.
    It works like this:
    BBC 2 HD playout suite is where BBC2 now originates from,
    the feed gets sent two ways,
    1 goes to BBC 2 HD
    2 goes to a downscaler which down scales the picture to SD (just like a home HD receiver on DTT, Dsat or Dcab can send out an SD version of a HD channel over scart). This downscaled feed becomes the network (England) BBC2 SD which then gets any opt outs in Wales, Scotland and NI.
    I hope this helps.
    The other thing is maybe there should be an extra £10 in the licence fee per year for households that can get HD.
    Or maybe there should be an extra charge for not having HD so that HD is promoted and people would go out and get a HD receiver just to stop them getting the charge.
    nether option would be popular but it would get the BBC more money for investment in HD and if loads more homes have access to HD then it would become feasible to switch of dvb-*1 and move all services to dvb-*2 hence the BBC will go fully HD!

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  • Comment number 64. Posted by nickc909

    on 4 Apr 2013 18:14

    @Alix - my point is that the shift of BBC HD to BBC2 HD looks to many as an overall money saving exercise and not just a way to go live with BBC2 HD. If this is not the case and the switch to BBC2 HD actually costs more overall then say so, but I think you already would have.

    None of this makes any real sense to me from a scheduling point of view apart from saving money.

    It's really disappointing to lose BBC4 drama HD output with no timetable of BBC4 HD shared with us so BBC2 SD can be aired on an HD channel.

    I think the synopsis of this is that people like myself, people who like the BBC4 drama series and have full HD TVs, are in such a minority that our opinion counts for little or next to nothing with the BBC. That's life etc. but while I may dislike the idea of Sky and Murdoch at least enough of their output is aimed squarely at me so they value me as a viewer and the money I contribute is invested in that output. The money I have to contribute to the BBC seems to be mainly spent on Eastenders, free advertising for Lord Webber's next get richer musical and reality TV 'talent' contests.

    This is my last post on this thread, no point continuing as decisions have been made and my objections will clearly not change anything.

    If I could opt out of BBC channels and license fee I would and spend the £150 on dvd copies of the dramas shown on BBC4! I am aware that it is not as simple as that but I have a feeling we will be able to do that in 10 or 20 years time.

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  • Comment number 63. Posted by Geoff103

    on 4 Apr 2013 15:50

    Paddy. Your comment is correct in all respects but then you go and spoil it by asking, "Please consider doing something like this."

    I'm afraid the submissive approach to the BBC gets us nowhere. We should demand it, order it. They are our functionaries. We pay them through a compulsory license fee (in all respects a tax).

    I posed these questions on the BBC Blog two days ago. And no hint of a reply.

    George Orwell knew what he was doing when he modelled his 1984 Ministry of Truth on his days at Broadcasting House.

    The pity is, that 60 years on and nothing has changed.

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