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BBC HD TV: Feedback

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Seetha Kumar Seetha Kumar | 11:02 UK time, Monday, 12 May 2008

logo_bbc_hd.pngI'm delighted that my post has struck a chord. You raised a range of issues: listings, simulcasting, more programmes and more HD channels, but there was a common theme. More is wanted and that, for me, is encouraging.

JdNthLdnN9 and trevorjharris want to know whether Top Gear and Formula One will make it on to BBC HD.


We showed Top Gear's Polar Challenge in HD; let me know if you caught it. And of course, I'd love to show the series. Who wouldn't? Our team has discussed this and we're talking to Top Gear to understand the specific production challenges. Regarding F1, we hope that this will be available in HD as soon as possible within our new contract, but this depends on demand from other international broadcasters as well as from us.

HD production technology has moved on a long way, but it's frustrating that there still aren't small and inexpensive lightweight HD cameras available. HD, as you may know, involves changes at every level of the production and broadcast chain and, unfortunately, not every stage is developing at the same rate, which can slow the pace. Andy's post gives some insight into some of the challenges we faced and continually face.

Moving a range of ambitious and innovative programmes to HD unearths different issues. Our team has built up knowledge and expertise and we do what we can to find solutions. The myths do not help and debunking them is a must, followed by training and sharing lessons learned.

We have come a long way. This is why we get asked to talk to colleagues across Europe about what we've achieved and how we went about it. On the continent, lack of HD content is a very big issue and our range of titles draws a respectful intake of breath.

cgi_cyberman_classic.jpgDoctor Who is a production that dcacooper talks about. Here, the issue is CGI. It is currently expensive, complicated and time-consuming. We'll get back to you as and when the picture changes.

Michaelporter is right: our listings on the website show just two days' worth. This, I promise, is temporary: we're working on publishing the seven day schedule. We're moving from a legacy to a new system and I expect it to be all sorted by the end of May, at which point I hope you'll let me know what you think. We're talking to the listings magazines and will send on your thoughts to the Radio Times. We met them recently and I know that viewer feedback is important to them.

"Start small and build strong" is my motto, so perhaps next time, I can talk about why we have one BBC HD channel, and not the four that Ianptv wanted.

Seetha Kumar is Head of HDTV, BBC Vision.


  • Comment number 1.

    Any plans for putting HD downloads up on the iplayer?

    I don't have an HD TV, but I have a perfectly good widescreen monitor.

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm very glad you have started a blog, and I hope you continue to maintain it so we can keep up to date with what's happening with BBC HD. There previously seems to have been a wall of secrecy surrounding the channel.
    I agree with other posters that notification of programmes is the biggest issue at the moment, but I think there is an extremely cheap and simple solution to this.
    When a programme starts, simply have the announcer say "also in HD". I was frustrated the other week when I noticed (through a lazy flick through the channels) that "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was in HD. It wasn't advertised as such when it started on BBC1. It looked stunning in HD, and I wonder how many people like myself ending up watching most of it in SD because of poor communication.
    Although their channels are simulcast, Channel 4 and Sky are much better at announcing a HD broadcast. The BBC need to start treating HD like a proper channel, and maybe even start including it in the "What's On" round-ups.
    As for the Dr Who \ CGI comment... doesn't Torchwood have the same level of CGI, and even use the same production company??

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't need HD TV, and I resent my licence fee being spent on something I don't want. It's about time this ludicrous tax was removed, and the BBC was forced to compete with the other channels for revenue to survive, instead of leeching off the British public.

  • Comment number 4.


    Can you tell me about BBC programs produced in HD that was shown before the channel launched such as 'rome'. Will the BBC show these again?

    I know some of the BBC classic programs such as the avengers was filmed and have been transferred to HD, do you have any plans to show these?

    What is the situation with films shown any of the BBC channels. Why are only a few shown in HD? I always assumed it was because of film stocks but when channel 4 launched the vast majority of its films are shown in HD.

    Could we see a symbol shown on SD programs at the start to show that the program is available on HD?

    I really would love to see Doctor who in HD, I appreciate comments about the CGI and set changes, but it is one the BBC's biggest programs, surely it means that a priority?


  • Comment number 5.

    Thanks for a great and honest post.

    Sounds like there is alot in the pipelines.
    BBC HD is going to become bigger and better than it already is.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hey you say that the Eurovision Song Contest will be in HD and the Olympics. Surely the BBC will show the whole Eurovision in HD the Final including the 2 Semi Finals and the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics otherwise what is the point in showing only a minor part of these events?

  • Comment number 7.

    Who didn't catch the top gear polar special I have it recorded in HD on my V+ would love to see the top gear presenters doing the F1 commentary, also was wondering will u be showing HSM2 again in HD as i recorded it but the video was very jumpy and was all over the place. Thanks for the speedy reply

  • Comment number 8.

    Any chance of changing the preview clips on a more regular basis?

  • Comment number 9.

    Will the FA Cup Final on HD include 5.1 DD Sound?

    The Sky Guide implies not, whereas Sky Sports indicates DD!

    What are the problems that result in some of your live broadcasts not having 5.1?

    What is the incremantal cost of providing the additional sound dimensions, both £ and as a percenage of the total HD cost over a SD broadcast?

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm enjoying the quality of programs on BBC HD and understand that it will take time to build up to a full schedule with less repeats.
    However, the BBC has been producing Doctors in HD from December of last year, yet this program doesn't feature.
    Can space not be found for a half hour late showing during week days or even a weekend omnibus?
    I would rather see this than endless repeats of other programs.

  • Comment number 11.

    digital_elysium is right. It seems somewhat naive that the BBC does not do what others, particularly Sky do as standard in their trailers where they say on SS1 and SS1HD. If Sky do this as standard for simulcast channels to ram the point home it seems even more the BBC should on the rare occasions of simulcasts like Indiana Jones 1st and 3rd films. For years the beeb plugged its digital channels when they were in their infancy. BBCHD whats on scans in the evenings should really include BBCHD next to BBC3 and BBCFour. These channels have had their viewing base problems and have grown. BBCHD will do well if treated in the same way. Dare I say it perhaps even a few cheeky cheesy clips like for when freeview launched but to draw attention to the benefits of HD.

    Very late but I would like to offer many thanks on the BBC HD offerings for the FA Cup final. Not only was it a good game but there were criticisms of the poor semi final picture quality that rightly had stick given out for. The Beeb pulled its socks up and the FA Cup final picture quality was great, so very well done. Really, really enjoyable.

  • Comment number 12.

    Can you tell us a little bit about the bbc in a trial of SHV?

  • Comment number 13.

    Are you all aware at the BBC that any program that you film in HD or for HD consumption also makes the Standard definition quality much improved? In fact if you began filming everything in HD then both your HD viewers and your viewers who still cannot view your HD programs would benefit?
    I have just been watching a recording on Freeview of Apperitions, obviously filmed in HD for your HD channel, and the picture quality was absolutely stunning! I honestly had to look twice!
    So this comment is to check if you were aware of this.


  • Comment number 14.


    I first subscribed to Freesat back in June last year in order to view programmes in HD.
    Generally I feel that both the BBC and ITV are giving poor value for money to those of us that made this investment. So relatively few programmes still are shown in HD.

    However I am particularly disappointed at the route the BBC has chosen by not only dedicating one particular channel to it, but also filling this channel with what seem to be in the main showcase documentary programmes, rather than the ones viewers particularly enjoy and have become accustomed to watching. Where's the sport, drama, comedy etc.?

    At least ITV are attempting to make the transition to HD with so many more of its mainstream programmes.

    Come on BBC; let's stop dithering on this subject and give the viewer what he wants -the mainstream programmes he pays his licence fee to watch.

  • Comment number 15.


    I have been a viewer for the last 2 years and have been impressed with the growth and development of the HD service...


    Your Dolby sound management is terrible (not as bad as Sky1 HD).

    Your AC3 audio switches between 2.0 and 5.1 program to program break to program etc. On a large percentage of earlier Dolby decoders, this causes the output to mute whilst the decoder re-locks to the new stream. In some cases, on receivers such as earlier NAD units, this will cause a load splat on the output.

    You also seem to have issues matching the Dialnorm levels program to break making the Audio level jump and the view jump for the remote.

    Could you please look at installing something like the Aeromax Dolby processor (from Linear Acoustics) on your Audio chain this will sort this out and give your consistent audio levels and dynamics. It will also allow you to broadcast a continuous Dolby 5.1 signal.

    Whilst this may upset some of your more purist engineers, 90% of your viewers are happy when the read speakers make noise and would have difficulty telling the difference between synth / upmixed Surround and the real 5.1 deal.

    You have to look at the Audio performance of the overall channel and not work on each item in it's own right and find they do not give a seamless audio experience when played out back to back to air.

    Please note that I am not selling any Aeromax product but I have used them on another HD service on the Sky platform and have been very very happy with it's performance.


    Frustrated Engineer - West London

  • Comment number 16.

    @ mikep6dd "I first subscribed to Freesat back in June last year in order to view programmes in HD.
    Generally I feel that both the BBC and ITV are giving poor value for money to those of us that made this investment. So relatively few programmes still are shown in HD."

    Firstly you haven't 'subscribed' to Freesat, as the name implies it's FREE.

    Secondly, your 'investment' is with the box manufacturer, not to BBC or ITV!!!

    If you want lots of HD, I suggest you 'subscribe' to Sky HD. HD doesn't come cheap so if you want a decent amount you need to pay for it.

  • Comment number 17.

    @ dbreeze "Whilst this may upset some of your more purist engineers, 90% of your viewers are happy when the read speakers make noise and would have difficulty telling the difference between synth / upmixed Surround and the real 5.1 deal."

    Do you mean like the HD preview loop where all clips, both stereo and 5.1 are broadcast as 5.1 and all the speakers are activated?

    If you do, I agree.

  • Comment number 18.

    Pardon my Typo..

    It should say

    "90% of your viewers are happy when the REAR speakers make noise"

    And Derek500, Yes I do. The Promo loop is the one people see when shopping for HD so it should be the pick of the HD crop.

    It's when you sit down during prime time and become a consumer, where the Audio Lumps and Bumps can become a bit annoying.

    Strangely the Big new HD promo (the guy standing in front of the colorful backdrop) seems to be broadcast in Dolby 2.0..

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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