BBC HD: What Works Best?
Thanks for all your comments to date - I do read them and mentally log them even where I don't respond directly to them in my posts.
I want to deal, though, with some of the comments about the channel content, and also to share with you some of the issues we face in making decisions for the channel.
BBC HD aims to broadcast in HD the best of programming available from the BBC.
Clearly, "best" is quite a subjective term. It could mean the content which works "best" in HD. When we make decisions about where to make HD investments, that is one of our considerations, and part of the reason why the first programming to deliver in HD has been our sport, costume dramas and natural history.
But it's not always possible to predict whether a programme or series will work well in this way - sometimes we can find a strong visual awareness in unexpected places, and sometimes programmes which we expect to look good in HD don't.
But our promise to look to the "best of the BBC" needs also to reflect the programmes that you (and others) in our audience tell us you really like - either because you watch them in large numbers, or because you tell us in other ways that you think they represent really valuable programming.
And the range of programmes there is much broader - we know that it extends to entertainment shows like Strictly Come Dancing and Jonathan Ross, sport, comedy, documentaries, music and also some daytime programmes.
I believe firmly that the BBC has a responsibility to consider programmes from across the full range of content and channels which we broadcast, and that we should continually experiment with forms of programming which are not available elsewhere in HD.
They may not look as pristine as those programmes for which HD is a more instinctive format, but they add to the range of HD content available to viewers who have invested in HD connections, and they help to ensure that on BBC HD, as on all other BBC channels, we are able to offer programmes which suit as wide a range of tastes as possible.
Even though we've been making programmes in HD for some time now, we still have a great deal to learn about the best ways to work with what remains an emerging technology.
A number of you have commented on the picture quality on Jonathan Ross. You're right - the show doesn't look as good at the moment in HD as we would like it to. That's not because - as mwbennett suggests, we're doing it on the cheap, or because light entertainment or studio shows as a whole have a lower quality threshold.
But the conversion of studio TC4 to HD is very recent, and we took a decision that we wanted to bring you the whole series of Jonathan Ross, rather than sorting all technical issues in advance of starting broadcast.
There are still elements affecting picture quality along the broadcast chain that we are working on (and some of these don't just relate to Jonathan Ross). I hope that, as we address them, the picture quality will improve across the channel.
Sometimes, for a whole variety of reasons, the production team decides that it doesn't want to use the format. Those of us on BBC HD felt that Merlin was a show that we should aim to deliver in high definition, but in the end it was shot in Super 16.
Derek500 asks for the "official" reason for not showing the Strictly Come Dancing results show in HD. I wasn't aware of an "unofficial" reason, but there is no particular issue in discussing why it won't be available on the channel this year.
A lot of work was done to try to ensure that the results show as well as the main show could be made in HD. But the nature of the results show, with lots of small camera filming and a fast turnaround, meant that we were unable to guarantee that the show could be delivered with the requisite proportions of HD content.
I had to take a decision about whether to pursue discussions and invest money which then couldn't be used for other programmes in a show which had a high chance of not actually delivering in HD. Reluctantly, I took the view that we should lose the programme from the HD schedule. It's not a decision I'm particularly pleased about, but in the circumstances it seemed to be the best one to make.
I am discovering that life at BBC HD is full of this kind of tricky dilemma - to a large extent, it is because the channel and technology are so interwoven into the other things that the BBC does, and the life of the rest of the channel portfolio.
This is particularly true when it comes to scheduling the channel. We want to bring you the best content available, and we recognise that most of the time you would like to see it in HD at the same time that it is being broadcast in SD.
But sometimes BBC One and BBC Two both have something made in HD on at the same time, and sometimes the rights we have to broadcast the content mean that our flexibilty is very restricted.
We have at least two instances coming up. Silent Witness is on at the same time as the first episode of Heroes, which we can only play at the same time as one of the other channels broadcasting it because of the rights we can afford to buy on it.
And we also have a clash between the last episode of the BBC Two series The Tudors (which I hope you have been enjoying) and the first episode of BBC One's Little Britain USA - both also acquisitions.
In both cases, we'll aim to broadcast both programmes on the channel - but obviously, only one can go out at the time that it is being shown in SD, and the other slots we have available may be less suited to the content and your lives.
We have heated debates within the team about what the best option is, and I suspect that, whichever programme we choose to prioritise, some of you will feel we've made the right decision and others the wrong one.
I'm interested as ever to know what you think - but also want you to know that even if you don't like the outcomes we get to, the decisions don't get taken lightly.
Danielle Nagler is Head of HDTV, BBC Vision.