« Previous | Main | Next »

BBC HD: Update and Christmas Schedule

Post categories:

Danielle Nagler Danielle Nagler | 14:42 UK time, Friday, 28 November 2008


Apologies first for my long absence from the blog.

Secondly, thank you for all your virtual bouquets and other responses to the DOG decision - I am glad that it has helped to increase your enjoyment of the channel.

I have been dipping in and out to follow the conversations here - but I've been focussing my time on your behalf on trying to secure the pipeline of new programmes I hope that you'll want to watch flowing through to BBC HD.

I'm always grateful to you for making me aware of what's missing - and I do try to follow up. I know that you've identified the Strictly Come Dancing Results show as a concern - and I'll make a firm commitment that with just over a year to figure out ways of doing it, I am confident that it will be on BBC HD next year. You've also mentioned programmes like Merlin, Top Gear, and Formula 1 which you want to watch in HD on the channel. I'm having conversations about all of those on your behalf, and I'll let you know as soon as there's any news.

What I can tell you more about is our Christmas schedule. We've been given permission to extend our hours for the Christmas weeks, so from Christmas Eve to New Year's Day we'll be on air from noon, or sometimes a little earlier, until the early hours of the morning. The time will be filled with many of the BBC's Christmas films, including quite a few for younger members of the family. A number of the comedy Christmas specials will be on the channel in HD - including Gavin and Stacey and The Royle Family. You can also catch some of the BBC's original drama - like The 39 Steps, and There Was a Crooked House, a late night horror story in three parts. We've also tried to gather for you some of what we feel have been the best programmes we've put out on BBC HD over the last year - they'll include Lost Land of the Jaguar, Michael Palin's New Europe, and the Wimbledon's Men's Singles' Final (less a few of the breaks). I know I can trust you to let me know what you think and I'll look forward to the feedback.

testcardfThis weekend our new daytime channel tape (or "barker") goes on air. It combines tasters of some of the content from the channel over the year, and upcoming programmes. If you watch carefully you'll also see the return of an old friend - the BBC test card. Andy Quested, our Head of Technology, will explain more in due course - but yes, the girl with the blackboard is now in full high definition.

I will be back soon - really, this time.

Danielle Nagler is Head of HDTV, BBC Vision.


  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks for the (brief) update. I was beginning to think you'd forgotten us. :-)

    With the speculation around whether Formula1 will be broadcast in HD next year, can I ask what the plans are for MotoGP on BBCHD?

    I understand that it is already broadcast on Eurosport HD - although, as a lowly Virgin Media customer, I can only guess how good it must be to have sports channels in HD! (Sorry for the sarcasm, it's not aimed at the Beeb).

  • Comment number 2.

    BikeNutt: To the best of my knowledge MotoGP on Eurosport HD is upscaled SD. The host broadcaster Dorna did not make a HD feed available last year.

  • Comment number 3.

    Can you explain why "Natural World" disappeared from the schedules? Or was it incorrectly marked in the first place?

    Thanks, love BBC HD.

  • Comment number 4.

    No main comments to make other than thank you for keeping us informed.

    you will have guessed every word you write is poured over by us BBC HD channel fans.

    I'm very pleased about the extended hours over Christmas - thank you.

    Please keep posting!

    Cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi, it's possible I missed it on the schedule but I didn't see the latest Horizon on bbchd and the recent "presidents guide to science" episode did look very good in HD. Are there any plans to air future episodes of Horizon on bbchd?

  • Comment number 6.

    @ scarletsupporter: That's a shame. Those that have seen it say it looks a darn sight better than on BBC2 but I guess upscaled SD would not be of sufficient quality to merrit being considered for BBCHD??

  • Comment number 7.

    I'm glad you are talking about formula 1. I don't expect more than 1 race on BBC HD, but it is nice to know you are trying on our behalf.

    It is good to see the return of the films on BBC HD over the Christmas period and some decent choices, ones that I would have watched in SD anyway.

  • Comment number 8.

    Thank you for your post Danielle.

    In terms of sport in HD next year can the BBC look into these please?

    Formula One.

    The 2010 Winter Olympics - It is only just over a year away now.

    Daytime coverage of the Skiing world cup which Eurosport HD currently broadcasts but the BBC hold joint rights to broadcast.
    That will provide a great deal of weekend HD Sport coverage.

    Match of the Day- All premiership fixtures are broadcast and recorded in HD.

    Championship League Football - From next year the BBC will show 10 games per season.These are currenty shown in HD on Sky Sports.

    1 Leg of the Carling cup final, both games. Currently shown in HD on Sky Sports.

    The Carling Cup Final. Currently shown in HD on Sky Sports.

    Autumn Internationals for the Irish, Scottish and Welsh Rugby teams and highlights of the England team.

    EDF Energy Cup and the Magners League rights that the BBC own.

    Challenge Cup and the Super League Show highlights show. Games which are already broadcast on Sky Sports in HD.

    Football League Highlights - Championship,League 1,2 and Carling Cup games.

    The Grand national.

    The Open.
    PGA Championship, the World Match Play Championship, the British Masters and the Scottish Open.
    And highlights of the Ryder Cup, already shown in HD on Sky Sports.

    The London based NFL game.

    Moto GP.

    Highlights of the 2009 ICC World Twenty20.

    World Snooker Championships.

    Masters Snooker, the UK Championship and the Grand Prix.

    BDO World Darts Championships.

    The Australian and French Open Tennis finals and where any British player is involved.

    And in the future.

    The Commonwealth Games

    And continue to show

    All 6 Nations Rugby games.
    The Superbowl final.
    The US Masters.

    Also it would be nice to see Top Gear.

    And for the BBC HD exnteded hours it would be nice to see Planet Earth again if you have the broadcast rights.

    I know there is a great deal of Sport that I have mentioned but Sport is a primary reason for why Sky have done so well,every one knows that.

    If the BBC wants to help build up its HD viewing figures and encourage people to take up HD recieving equipment for the TV's they own broadcasting more sport in HD would be a good start.

    Then as your viewing figures and share increase you can use it to justify making even more content avaliable in HD.

  • Comment number 9.

    Further to my first post.

    Tennis- British Davis Cup teams matches, Queen's Club Championships and Masters Tennis from the Albert Hall.

    Football - SPL highlights and Scottish FA Cup highlights.

    And any friendly or qualifying football games from the home nations that the BBC own.

  • Comment number 10.

    Can I please ask that you spend some time reading through this thread :-


    It's not just people having a moan, it's valuable feedback that I urge you to take onboard. Things have got worse picture quality wise, some things look stunning (antiques roadshow, last of the summer wine, green green grass) whilst some things look almost SD quality (Apparitions, Jonathon Ross, Silent Witness to name a few).

    I do hope you take the time to read that thread and perhaps it would be good if you could post feedback on there?

    Thanks for the update, please do everything in your power to get F1 in HD next year, I realise it will probably cost a fortune but it'll be worth it!

  • Comment number 11.

    while its god that you see fit to get more content into the cristmas sc, its not really good enough until we see HD being put through the NW winterhill transmitters that DVB-T viewers with cheap PC USB cards can start using at the very least.

    the talk of HD sport and dancing is also over powering, weres the classic UK sciFi or at least the US imports if you can find any good entertaing content to rent and broadcast over the holidays.....

  • Comment number 12.

    Can I be the first one to say, "Yay! An HD Testcard!!!". Since Sky took theirs down there's been nothing to help people calibrate their tellys unless they want to buy a disc. Will there be instructions on how to use it properly?

    In regards to sport... please, no more. There's about 100 hours a week of sport too much on the Beeb already.

    The Beeb should let Sky take care of sport and focus on drama, natural history, sci-fi and light entertainment. That's what the Beeb does best.

    If you must have sport, drop BBC4 and have a dedicated sports channel. Not everyone likes to watch sport on TV. I only know one person who watches sport on TV and that's my dad, and even then it's only football and only if Celtic are playing.

    So yeah, in closing:

    HD Testcard - Yay!
    More sport - Boo!

  • Comment number 13.

    Dear the_davie

    I am writing now but we have a bit more testing to do ourselves and another audio test signal to up. I hope to have details and a "how to use" guide as soon as I can.


  • Comment number 14.

    the_davie - Why leave Sky to all the sport?
    Sport is an important part of the BBC seeing as it is the Olympic broadcaster.

    The BBC Trust won't allow more HD spending on drama, natural history, sci-fi and light entertainment which I agree should be in HD until they see large take up in the viewing ratings via BARB to justify the extra cost of HD for those programmes you want

    Sport is easy and cost effective.

    These sports that the BBC already own (or will own from August 2009) could be shown in HD with little extra cost as the content is already produced in HD on site.

    Formula One.

    The 2010 Winter Olympics

    Skiing world cup. That will provide a great deal of weekend HD Sport coverage.

    Match of the Day- All premiership fixtures are broadcast and recorded in HD.

    Championship League Football - From next year the BBC will show 10 games of the 09/10 season.

    1 Leg of the Carling cup final 09/10 cup.

    The Carling Cup Final.BBC has joint rights for it for the 09/10 cup.

    Super League Show highlights show.

    Football League Highlights - Championship,League 1,2 and Carling Cup games.

    The London based NFL game.

    The rest of the sports that the BBC own the rights to could easily upgraded to HD or take HD feeds from other broadcasters , every sporting event previously mentioned could be broadcast in HD with little extra cost in terms of tv production and transmission.

    Then as the BBC Trust sees viewing figures shoot up they will justify the cost of producing more drama other programming in HD which is more expensive.

  • Comment number 15.

    I forgot to mention I am pleased about the test card. This is a really good idea.

    Anyway I do not contribute to avforums but would agree with many of the comments zAndy12's link mentioned (except the myths about virgin media - VM get an uncompressed feed and encode it into MPEG-2 and a few other ones) about picture quality and several people mentioned it on Andy Quested's blog.

    Further to Andrew Knight's post, I don't want BBC HD turned into a sports channel, but nor do I want it run the way it is as the moment. It is just a top up channel, exactly how BBC Choice was run and that was a disaster. Why the binges? Last Christmas and Easter there were lots of films. Since then there has been very little. There was the rugby, Olympics and Paraolypmics. Since then it's as if we've used up our "quota" of sport so if we want any one off sporting events we have to wait till some arbitrary date in 2009. We seem to be going through a cookery, kids programmes and strictly come dancing binge at the moment. At some point this will probably end and we'll go through a drama, nature and repeats binge again.

    Why some snooker can't be put on BBC HD I am really puzzled about that, it seems to me to be one of the sports suited to HD and your encoders which perform badly on fastmoving action especially live stuff. It couldn't hurt to get a bit more experience in producing HD sports and doing ones like snooker? As for justifng the cost millions of people watch the final every year. And before anyone says I'm certainly not asking for the entire two weeks to hog the schedule like the olympics and paraolympics did, just a bit of balance. I understand it will probably cost to have another shed sat outside the crucible kitted out with HD but you'll have to do it sooner or later.

  • Comment number 16.

    With regard to the HD Testcard - would there be and Digital Surround sound 'test' alongside that?

    Say if it was onscreen for 30 minutes - the first & last 5 minutes could have audio clues or tones for setup.

    If fact a real improvement would be if the girl swopped her blackboard for a clapper board - to help sync sound.

    But I welcome the test card anyway.

    Cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 17.

    Can I just say that I think Danielle is doing a great job! Well done!

    Next year, I feel you should have a big push for content - try and match Sky! The programmes you mentioned are all great, and I also think you should go for big rating-winners as well to draw customers.

    I would love to see Have I Got News For You in HD. I think it would really look good.

  • Comment number 18.

    Danielle: Thanks for your post. The HD Test Card is most welcome, but please give it a programme slot so we can record.

    Keep up the good work and thanks for listening!

  • Comment number 19.

    Thanks Andy for the reply. I agree with both daveac and Bill-Taylor; a lip-sync section would be great as would giving any extended version a time slot as if it's just on the preview it's impossible to record or pause, meaning making adjustments is going to be difficult.

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm pleased to hear about all the new programmes and the Christmas schedule.

    The picture quality is still an issue for for me though, its like its being broadcast in SD sometimes (I know it isn't but its hardly good)

    Danielle, previously you have blogged that
    quote "There are still elements affecting picture quality along the broadcast chain that we are working on ...I hope that, as we address them, the picture quality will improve across the channel. "

    When will these issues be sorted?

    Take the following examples:
    1. On the new HD preview the last 5 seconds of the Oceans programme preview, where it has the Oceans logo on top of the moving ocean. The quality of the picture here is dreadful with artefacts (especially on the right hand side of the picture)

    2. Coldplay is grainy and just looks a mess. Hardly HD at all.

    3. Why does ITV HD look better than BBC HD with a lower bitrate? Are you using old and outdated encoders like others suggest?

    I really do hope you can address the picture quality.

  • Comment number 21.

    Dear Digitalscoobiedoo

    I am sorry to read you believe the BBC HD Channel still has a quality problem. Can I refer you to the blog I did on picture quality.


    Other than the 25% standard definition allowed in any HD programme the picture quality is extremely and consistently high.

    The quality issues we had around the time of the Jonathan Ross have been resolved and the channel meets or exceeds the quality of all other HD channels.

    We are still working on ways to improve the quality delivered to home but if you believe the quality of the BBC HD channel is not as you expect I urge you to read the blog first.


  • Comment number 22.

    I used to think the picture quality was awful on shows such as Later... but recently I think things have improved a lot.

    Most of the BBC HD stuff is on a par with Sky1 HD if not better in some cases, but it's still not as good as Discovery HD or Rush HD.

    I wouldn't say it was terrible by any means. Not compared to 6 months ago at least.

    Maybe there's something wrong with your dish/box digitalscoobiedoo

  • Comment number 23.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not saying its bad across the board. Some shows, like Sunshine, Antiques roadshow and Last of the Summer Wine are great. But they aren't exactly challenging pictures for HD transmission in my view because there isn't a lot of movement in the picture.

    Shows that introduce some movement (eg Oceans or sport), or smoke (eg Olympic Games ceremonies) or moving panoramic shots (Britain from Above) all typically have picture quality problems.

    Let me outline two specific types of problems I see - Artefacts and Noise

    (1) Artefacts. The Planet Earth trailer that is constantly on - the one with the waterfall. Take a look at the rocks , not the water, on that 20 second trailer. Towards the end, just as the helicopter goes over the edge, the rocks are full of artefacts. I don't believe that problem is caused by my TV, I think its the transmission somewhere. Probably the encoding.

    (2) Noise - I'd urge people to watch Coldplay tonight on BBC HD - if its the same picture quality that it was a few weeks back it will be pretty bad all the way through. I'm amazed how this can have ended up in this state given it was filmed by the HDTV outside transmission trailer. A similar problem happened to The Verve at Glastonbury which also gets repeated a lot and I and others have commented that it is of poor picture quality.


    I have read your previous blog (in fact I responded to it at the time) and have taken a second check today that I do follow all your settings guidance.

    I don't think you blog addressed a couple of my specific concerns though - Picture noise and artefacts

    I'd ask that you take a good look at the examples I've given :
    1 Planet Earth Waterfall - focusing on the rocks,
    2. Oceans Preview at the end, the pararomic shot of the Ocean,
    3. and Coldplay - all the tranmission.
    Are you looking at what you are transmitting or what typical receivers are receiving?

    The problems I see look like encoding problems. The sorts of problems which we've seen before in the early days of PC encoding of tv and early days of digital tv.

    I should outline my setup - Panasonic Freesat TH46PZ81 Plasma TV, all settings are normal, all picture management enhancement settings are switched off. I also have a Vantage HD 8000 satellite receiver. There is no noticable difference between the freesat receiver and the Vantage in terms of picture quality. It is capable of producing really great HD picture - from BBC TV and ITV HD

    I notice you say there have been some fixes recently. I will say I feel I noticed a slight improvement in Strictly Come Dancing last night.

    Finally, as I detect you're not convinced there is a problem, I'll offer if you want to send someone around to see what I'm seeing feel free. I'm pretty close to BBC Manchester.

  • Comment number 24.

    Firstly i'd like to say thankyou for the update. However, we STILL dont like the DOG, please remove it, BBCHD isnt going to accidentaly be on, we have EPG on our set top boxes, its redundant and ruins the shows. You obviously agree as you contradict yourself by removing it from drama's, do people who watch drama's definately 100% know they are watching bbchd and people who watch others show dont, nope!

    Please look at the logo's here:

    The logo on the right is the current logo, both the other 2 logos are much better, have a huge diamond block of white is very distracting, it should have no block just HD in transparent white or at the very least cut the top and bottom points off as in the left logo: http://i38.tinypic.com/scfeo1.png

    Please air the following in HD:

    Top Gear
    Match Of The Day
    Strictly Come Dancing Results
    Formula 1

    Please stop airing repeats of Bonekickers, Robin Hood, Planet Earth. They aired such a long time ago, show repeats of recent shows. We now only have 1 airing of Jools Holland, i'd like the full airing to happen on tuesdays, being live doesnt benefit the viewer as its a music show.

    Regarding quality....

    You say you have resolved the issues like Jonathon Ross, unfortunately you havent, see this screenshot i took from my 1080i.ts recording of Live At The Apollo 4x01 which aired a few days ago: http://i35.tinypic.com/ff0gvs.png

    as you can see the grain is hurrendous, its added grain, this happened with jonathon ross, please fix this problem! The grain is an issue throughout the whole show, the screenshot is from 07mins 30secs into the show.

    Thankyou for airing the Wimbledon Final Repeat in HD, please air FA Cup Final and Euro 2008 Final in HD too please.

  • Comment number 25.

    Dear Digitalscoobiedoo

    I will answer your question about the Planet Earth rocks. Take very hard look at the noise - then look again. It's rf noise from the connection between the camera and the recorder in the helicopter. The transmission system is now clean enough to get this hf noise through to your receiver and display. It's not something we are particularly happy about, it was one of the early uses of the helicopter rig and not a shot we could go back and re do.

    Other programmes (other than the noise from camera gain on Coldplay) are as free from digital artifacts as possible and on my Panasonic (via Sky HD PVR) the Strictly studio sections looked very good last night.

    You will also have to accept that on some programme where we have no control over the lighting, camera gain will have to be used and a good transmission chain will show this noise. What we are working on though are ways to reduce the effects of noise on transmission quality without having to filter so much we loose resolution


  • Comment number 26.

    ropies - Look at the BARB viewing figures.
    BBC HD has only been measured for the last two weeks but it has only come close to 100,000 viewers once.

    If the BBC provides more sport it will encourage exsisting HD owners to tune in and for others to take up options like freesat.

    People just aren't going to spend around £200 for a freesat HD box plus installation
    or a certain amount for Sky or Virgin for the Antiques roadshow alone.
    They need consistant programming and sport is one of the few things that the BBC shows nearly every weekend throuhgout the year, all other series only have limited runs.

    And the BBC won't be able to invest in better encoders if they carry on getting such low viewing figures.
    They won't sign of the accounts for new equipment when the cost per viewer is so high.

    Events like snooker, darts and tennis previously mentioned require a few static cameras and a HD broadcasting OB uplink.

    Shows like Match of the Day,the super league show and the future Football league and Carling Cup games already have content made in HD so they just need HD studios to take advantage of the footage already avaliable.

    The BBC already broadcast the 6 nations in HD so its rather surprising it didn't decide to broadcast the Autumn internationals in HD as the BBC just need the same equipment as before.

    With Formula One itself looking at HD it would mean the BBC would just need its own studios and on site cameras as well with the HD feeds provided.

    The BBC could even take the same HD feeds from Eurosport for the Skiing World Cup and Australian and French tennis opens for BBC HD coverage if the rights are possible.

    The golf would be quite hard to make in HD though with the number of cameras needed but it is possible.

    I agree as well other shows can be easily made in HD.

    Have I got news for you.
    A question of sport.

    Again these shows are easy to make in HD as they are in studios with just a few cameras being used.

    Top gear deserves to be made in HD as well.

    And all the movies the BBC show from recent years should be made avaliable on its HD as well though this seems to be happening anyway with the BBC christmas lineup.

  • Comment number 27.

    Enjoying the quality of the broadcasts, especially when it's dogless.

    Don't go mad on sport - just the major stuff like Wimbledon will be fine.

    I don't mind repeats - gives you more chance to catch stuff.

    Just out of interest - I presume in the BBC archives there must be stuff shot on film as well as video. Could this be digitised into HD? It would be great to see some of the real classics like Civilisation in high definition.

  • Comment number 28.

    Please don't go overboard on sport! I think you have the balance about right now. Those who want more sport can get it from Sky. You are more likely to increase your viewing figures with drama than sport.

    Thank you for removing the DOG in some programmes! It's made a big difference. I'm puzzled as to why it has to be there during any programme.

    More films would be very welcome, and I'm looking forward to the Christmas offerings.

    Keep up the work on improving picture quality, though you are never going to to satisfy some of the complainers who will never understand the difficulty of delvering a perfect, bright picture under awkward conditions.

    You comment "meets or exceeds the quality of all other HD channels" is, however, very dubious, though it may be your belief. If it is, you are in danger getting complacent.

    I do love BBC HD, and watch a lot of your output, but could wish for more new content and extended hours.


  • Comment number 29.

    I know you don't want to stick much non-BBC content on BBC HD, but the restored Classic Star Trek does look lovely in HD as it was shot on film.

    There must be quite a lot of BBC programmes that were made on film before the era of videotape, a "HD Archive Hour" of some of the best of this content would be both inexpensive and interesting.

  • Comment number 30.

    briantist, making hd movies and tv shows of old releases is very expensive and with lower bbchd viewing figures it certainly wouldnt be worth it. Plus Star Trek sucks. Instead BBCHD should buy the HD versions of movies that are available from movie companies like it currently does. We have these movies on DVD anyway and can probably buy them on bluray or can do in the future so movies on BBCHD isn't a plus for me. Shows like Top Gear, Spooks, Dr Who, MOTD, Horizon, Panorama, Louis Theroux etc would be big plus'.

    If we have to have movies then Air them on Saturday afternoons at 3pm or something. Please extend the hours of BBCHD, don't understand why the hours are limited, why not 24/7? You could have repeats of shows on until 7pm then regular viewing later on. You wouldn't be paying hardly anything for airing repeats as you just press play, this way we wouldn't be subjected to repeats of Planet Earth and Robin Hood during evening hours and could enjoy new shows or repeats of shows from that week.

    You still havent aired Stephen Fry Across America in HD yet, its out on bluray, why havent you aired it in HD if its been filmed in HD?

  • Comment number 31.


    i thought Oceans looked really good, i don't know how you can say it's not. i had noticed the rocks on the preview, but if Andy say's it's caused by interference between the camera and recorder, then i'll take his word for it.

    and yes, Top Gear in HD please. if ever there was a show that would benefit it's Top Gear.

    also, are there any plans to show specials such as the Edinburgh Tattoo in HD?

  • Comment number 32.

    "...reduce the effects of noise on transmission quality without having to filter so much we loose resolution"

    Please what ever you do, do not filter the picture. I would rather have noise any day than a blurry filtered HD signal.

    Also Formula 1 in HD would be spectacular. I hope the BBC can arrange something for next season.

  • Comment number 33.

    please make sure your online tv guide is correct, the (R) for repeat is often incorrect eg: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbchd/programmes/schedules/2008/12/01

    as you can see sunshine is a repeat if you click on it, aired in october, yet it has no (R) symbol on the link above, this happens ALOT and (R) written on shows which arent a repeat.


    add (hd-R) for shows that have already been aired on BBCHD and is a re-air.
    add (R) for shows that have already aired on BBC1/2/3/4 but no on BBCHD before.

    And a link on the (R) and (hd-R) giving information about what the symbol means.

  • Comment number 34.

    DOG issue: much better over the last month or so.

    Test Card: Great! Please make sure it has it's own slot on the EPG so we can record it.

    Christmas schedule: Great!

    PQ & Grain: I do see a lot of grain on some shows, particularly on darker scenes. I concur with the person who mentioned "Live at the Apollo" as an example.
    I also do see artefacts on fast transitions, "Britain from Above" was a major culprit. I've tried adjusting my settings... but perhaps the new test card will help! :-)

    The main issue I still have with BBC HD is the hap-hazard scheduling. E.g. Survivors episode 2 was repeated, but episode 1 wasn't. Things like that.

  • Comment number 35.

    Nothing personal against Andy Quested but I cant help but feel you are trying to fob people off in regards to quality. It seems like you are making up any old excuse and hoping people will accept it.

    Old encoders and lowered bit rate = huge quality decrease. Yes production could possibly be better, but a large chunk of the poor quality on BBC HD is lowered bit rate on old encoders.

    Wonder if Andy has every watched the HD trailers throughout the day???? Its a disgrace.

    I plead with you Andy to get the Bitrate increased back to 20mpbs for just 1 day and lets see what the quality is like then. We allo know we will see a massive increase.

    Either get the bitrate upped or get some new encoders that Sky are using.

    The people running BBC HD at the moment just seem to make excuse after excuse in regards to quality and ignore the real issues.

    Either sort it out or let sopmeone else do the job that can.

  • Comment number 36.

    wednesday83 -
    The BBC Trust or whoever is currently signing of BBC HD spending will have to hear from viewers and Andy and Danielle before making a decision,attacking them won't do anything.

    Considering BBC HD has to share capacity with standard definition television channels says the BBC won't allow BBC HD to use DVB-S2 or increase its current bandwidth or invest in new decoders because of cost saving measures.

    The accounts holder needs to be persuaded that if BBC HD comes under more and more criticism then it will stall the uptake of services like freesat and put off current HD users on current services from viewing BBC HD.

    That's why investing in sports as well as some of the key studio based shows in HD will be worthwhile, sport is one of the few things the BBC has that runs throughout the year. Of course the BBC shouldn't stop investing in drama or comedy in HD but if it wants to boost its ratings for the channel to secure extra investment then sport would be the most cost effective area to invest in.

    I don't agree for now that archive material is the way forward, the cost of upgrading it to HD vs providing sports and other key shows like QI in HD will bring more audiences that will justify in the longer run looking at archive material made.

    Is there any news if the BBC Top Gear Polar special will be shown on BBC HD as it is avaliable on Blu-Ray?

    It would be nice to see Planet Earth again on BBC HD if it is possible.

  • Comment number 37.

    Dear wednesday83 - I do watch the promo and I watch it on my own Panasonic plasma at home and a Sony Bravia, Samsung Plasma ... and even a 32" CRT.

    The new promo is stunning quality and I am very pleased with the work that went into producing it.

    Other than a brief period where we had a problem with the transmission chain, the quality of the channel is better with the coder upgrade (May 2007) at around 16Mbs than it was at 19Mbs with what was quite frankly an SD encoder on speed.

    We are always looking at the next generation of encoders and when we are happy they are stable and offer a noticeable benefit to you (an me as I watch a lot of HD at home).


  • Comment number 38.

    Sorry the last para should read

    We are always looking at the next generation of encoders and will use then when we ...

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi Andy, will there be a step by step audio gudie with the test card? Often settings are often incorrectly set up for HD viewing before the viewer gets HD which doesn't make the BBC HD picture look as good as it could be.

    Also you mention your MPEG-4 decoders were changed in May 2007.
    When were the MPEG-2 decoders changed for the other tv channels that transmit along side BBC HD? Perhaps if a new MPEG-2 decoder was installed the difference in bandwidth could be given to BBC HD.

    For posters with quality issues perhaps you can also provide what screen size and type of HD TV you have so the 'problem' can be found.

  • Comment number 40.

    Dear Andrew Knight - I am writing the guide now and will put up the new post as soon as the second sync check signal is ready. I watch on a 65" plasma 50" plasma 42" LCD and Plasma 32" (CRT and LCD) - there is a 46" LCD and a new 50" LCD at our research facility too. We also have some 17" and 24" LCD with DVI-D inputs, not true HD-Ready but reasonable quality.

  • Comment number 41.

    Andrew Knight. I disagree about what you've written about DVB-S2. People have talked for a long time about kicking off the BBC variants off and using the transponder for HD and DVB-S2 so you could fit 2 HD channels on (or 3 if the BBC would enter the 21st century and use something similar to Sky's Tangberg codecs). Like I have commented before it is funny how there will be 3 HD channels fit on freeview Mux B (equally split). That the BBC will have to beat down their bitrates jumps out at you but none of these concerns are ever addressed. Also at Andrew Knight, I would love sport on BBC HD but I know that on the current 6hrs-ish a day schedule of a top up channel that isn't possible. Even with the full 9hrs running everyday of the year it would still not be enough to accomodate sport. If you want sport we'd really have to have the much saner idea of simulcasting BBC1 and BBC2 in HD. This won't happen for years though (maybe about 2014 going on Ofcom reports) whilst the current BBC HD mindset continues.

    As a poster with quality issues I view BBC HD and many other Sky HD channels a friend has on various sets (and boxes) - 26", 32" and 42". How totally average BBC HD's picture quality is shows up on the 42".

  • Comment number 42.

    P.S. I know there isn't any point being too negative but wednesday83's comments are spot on. Andy Quested and the others repeatedly give drone answers. We get told things like oh they aren't that bad really or we have a high bitrate or it hasn't affected quality.
    Some of us know that Sky are using really good tangberg codecs and it makes BBC look bad/average where before they were better relatively. If it was rectified we'd be the first to be complementing the BBC.

  • Comment number 43.

    Dear ropies

    I am really sorry to disagree with you. I am watching the Turin Shroud and at normal viewing distance the quality is stunning.

    As I said before we are always looking at the next generation of encoders and we will use them when we are happy they are stable and offer a noticeable benefit to you (an me as I watch a lot of HD at home).


  • Comment number 44.

    Apart from the programs that suffereed from known problems, JR for example, I find on the whole that BBChd picture quality to be very good ( mind you I do agree that the Coldplay material looks poor).

    I have spent some time watching the preview loop this morning and see very very little in the way of typical mpeg compression artifacts. For ref on a 42" Panasonic plasma fed from a video scaler and a humax foxsat at a veiwing distance of about 11ft.

    Not everything is down to final broadcast bitrate. I think people have to understand that not all source material will be equal in quality.

    Poor lighting conditions can cause camera noise, (Andy PLEASE don't filter to make it look clean), post production aesthetic picture adjustments to give the program a certain "look" seem to often get confused with "poor quality HD" etc etc.

    Andy, perhaps a non technical FAQ might be useful to explain some of these things for people.

    Then of course there is the thorny issue of the quality of peoples TVs and possibly more pertinently, how they are set up.

    There are many picture processing options on modern displays which can unfortunately have a big negative effect on the picture, not to mention getting correct the basic adjustments of brightness, contrast, colour and often overlooked sharpness. Excessive sharpness can cause ringing (sort of transparent halos round areas of high contrast) and accentuate grain/noise.

    Personally I think the big problem for BBChd is the lack of program material. To be successful the channel must expand from a diet of repeats and wildlife docs. OK, thats a bit of an exaggeration, the repetoire is larger than that, but I want the everday BBC1 and 2 schedule programming in HD....and I don't think that expanding to 9 hours a day next year is going to cut it.

    Especially if it is going to be filled with a disproportionate amount of childrens TV in the primetime hours after 6 pm.

  • Comment number 45.


    Andy, the test card is very useful and I think they mean Tandberg!

  • Comment number 46.


    Instead of a FAQ why not make a program to be shown during the preview loop as to how to get the best out the HD service and how to adjust your TV properly?

  • Comment number 47.

    can you please answer me this ?

    you are the british broadcasting company ? for the british people? We are your first priority?

    why then do we get a partial bbc hd service operating only a few hours a day

    and canal digital scandinavia - from yesterday get a full 24 hour bbc hd service ?

    do we not get the bbc hd 24 hour servic e first????

  • Comment number 48.


    A question about the testcard.

    I have set the black level and contrast correctly against the pluge testcards generated from my video scaler and from dvd/blueray test discs.

    If I turn down the brightness beyond the level set with these test cards I can see the above white dot in the grey scale, but if I do the opposite I cannot see the below black dot.

    My end or yours?

  • Comment number 49.

    The main problem BBC HD has at the moment with quality is that the people running the channel believe the quality is good and on par with other channels.

    What hope do we really have of BBCHD getting any better and back to the standard of picture quality it was at if the people running it think its a good standard???

    Maybe heads need to roll.

  • Comment number 50.


    Could you describe in detail the problems you perceive with picture quality on some programs over the next few days.

    I am curious if I can see the same problems as at the moment I struggle to agree with your point of view.

    Now, I don't have sky so I can't compare, but I do have an accurately calibrated plasma, blu ray and know what a high quality high bitrate source looks like.

    Perhaps Skys encoders do perform a lot of noise reduction? This will make the picture very clean, but there will be penalties in terms of fine detail/resolution.

  • Comment number 51.

    Why was Little Dorrit episode 12 bumped for a Panorama programme? The sensible 'we are listening' comments about scheduling in this blog are blown away by this type of ridiculous decision - I just cannot understand the reasoning. The next episode on my Sky+ is now 13 (Wed 10/12) - are you really going to miss out a whole episode? It makes you feel like just giving up on the BBC and waiting for the DVD to come out.

  • Comment number 52.

    I agree with sipasblog there was no reason to pull it from HD. There had already been massive coverage of the Shannon Matthews case and I doubt if there was anything new in the Panorama report. I feel that the BBC has short changed HD viewers again.

  • Comment number 53.

    atleast you guys knew about it, BBC didnt even bother updating their online tv guide so i didnt know panorama was on in hd or i would have watched it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbchd/programmes/schedules/2008/12/04

    I really wonder how some of these BBC execs managed to get their jobs.

  • Comment number 54.

    Panorama was only on BBC1. It was an excellent program as the viewing figures will no doubt reveal.

    BBC HD had a Green Green Grass repeat at 20:00hrs.

    The missing Little Dorrit will be shown in the Sunday repeat slot.

  • Comment number 55.

    I was very pleased to see a BBC HD trailer of length (45 secs, 1 min?) that looked slick on BBC News 24. This is great stuff and is what is needed to promote the channel. Now that BBC HD is measured in Barb this will make a difference too perhaps. Please keep up the pressure on these trailers. I spoke to someone a while ago who was convinced BBC HD was only a preview loop as whenever they switched it on this is what they saw and they never saw listings for it. When I explained it only had limited and varying hours it was clear where the confusion arose from. Please keep up the pressure on trailers for the channels, the message will get through.

  • Comment number 56.

    I just really wish that BBC 6 O'clock News could be in HD. Would be great to see the in-studio cameras in HD and a limited number of outdoor HD cameras as obviously there are 100's of foreign correspondants worldwide so you cant expect them to upgrade every camera but i'd be very happy with what i suggested and it would be very cheap as you'd use the equipment every day and have it all set up ready to broadcast.

  • Comment number 57.

    What happened to HD Little Dorrit last night? We settled down to watch it and the announcer just said it had been replaced (with a sitcom), no explanation. When will it be on now? Paul. PS We love it but it would be better in 5.1 Surround Sound.

  • Comment number 58.

    Just wanted to commend you on the picture quality of Oceans and Strictly tonight. Both were fantastic.

  • Comment number 59.


    Thanks for the reply. Interesting to hear you agree there's a problem with the Planet Earth shots and Coldplay. I am surprised that the Planet Earth shot is being used as a demonstration shot of BBC HD given it has some problems.

  • Comment number 60.

    I am also pleased to read that new encoders are at least being considered (maybe they can be piloted if you don't do that already?)

  • Comment number 61.

    Looking at the latest BARB data I'm amazed how low the viewing figures are for BBC HD programmes.

    Then I watch promos for Christmas shows like 39 steps, Gavin & Stacey etc. and they do not mention BBC HD at all!!

    Surely BBC HD should work with BBC Presentation to give your excellent channel a higher profile?

    BBC HD programmes might then achieve a higher audience share to match their SD counterparts.

  • Comment number 62.

    Re: Strictly Come Dancing Results Show.

    Hard to understand the thinking here, Danielle.

    TC1 is equipped with 10 HD cameras - OK not small hand held ones apparently. But a lot of money has been spent.

    The excuse given indicates you shoot on miniDV or DVCAM for the interview stuff - and can't afford to upgrade the cameras or post-production to HD. A Sony D1 HD camcorder is not all that expensive these days!

    The way it works currently you have around 24 hours to get the results show ready for TX. Not exactly a fast turnaround!

    After the end of series it seems nonsense to say this kit couldn't be used on other programmes. Is it going to be thrown in the bin? Perhaps this is to do with the bizarre break up of the BBC into Productions/ Facilities etc?

  • Comment number 63.

    A Christmas Present from the HD Channel!

    The Queens DOG!

    I thought broadcasting The Queen's speech WITH a DOG was a disgrace. The idea the BBC should wish to place commercial branding on The Queen's broadcast is extremely disrespectful to Her Majesty and patronising to viewers.

    Come-on BBC - Ditch The DOG!

    BTW Sky Anytime had a perfect HD version of The Queen's speech without any branding.

    Well Done Sky!

  • Comment number 64.

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

  • Comment number 65.

    I live in the US. The world news here is awful. The BBC website has saved my bacon over here. I check it daily for world news

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]


More from this blog...

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.