BBC HD Channel Up To Nine Hours Per Day
I wanted to share some news - and of course to respond to comments which I thought might be most easily done as a single post.
First a couple of developments to share.
Those paying close attention may have noticed that for the first time today outside of a major event, the BBC HD schedule is up at 9 hours. That's the full service that we have permission for from the BBC Trust, and from now on (until there is any extension to the service) the channel we plan to deliver to you.
We'll start daily at 4pm, and run through to between 12.30 and 1.30 7 nights a week although we will of course still extend the channel hours when there are sporting or other events that fall outside those hours. I would welcome your feedback on how far predictability - for example of the kinds of programmes you can expect say on a Saturday evening, or from 4 to 6 on a weekday - is useful to you because I am trying to build greater consistency into the schedule.
With a new scheduling team on board we will be making some changes over the coming months, which I would hope can plan your time with the channel. It is inevitably tricky given the fact that we are juggling with programmes from across BBC channels, and trying to follow their schedules and broadcast programmes at the same time where it makes most sense to do so.
Getting to nine hours is quite a milestone in the life of BBC HD, although as some of you have suggested, it is in the end what's on the channel inside those hours that matters most. We are working on that too - no specific announcements at this time but we are keeping busy.
Before you ask the inevitable question I have to tell you that unfortunately there will be no BBC HD showing of The Wire - not because of lack of money or lack of will, but because the series is made on digibeta.
Getting some of the programmes I think need to move into HD may mean though a slight shake up of some of the things that have featured in the past - hopefully you will agree with the choices, but as one example there will be no Chelsea Flower Show this year in HD. Getting more of Six Nations in HD is a goal for next year - as scarlet supporter has picked up, there are no France and Italy based fixtures in the mix. That's part of a decision about how to spend our Sport HD budget most effectively and was the case last year too I believe. I can't promise it will change, but it is under discussion as we consider how best to extend the BBC HD sport offer.
Disrember is right in observing that there's inconsistency in film availability in HD - quite simply, studios are not always prepared to make HD versions available, and sometimes the scheduling of films means that we don't have time to acquire an HD version when we want to show them. But also, BBC HD is never going to be a movie channel - Sky movie services already do that very well, and what we're trying to do is something different. Film is a pretty small part of our content offer, and is likely to remain a limited part of the schedule.
A couple of you, including ropies and wednesday83, are asking about channel promotion and whether the BBC is putting sufficient welly behind HD. Firstly, there's another burst of on air promotion coming up early next month, linked to some on-air changes around the channel idents, an update for the website, and the arrival of HD content on iplayer. And we're looking hard at what works most effectively in terms of increasing awareness of the channel, bearing in mind the proportion of homes that currently have access to BBC HD. Mike has picked up on the references to "the BBC HD channel" - that is the way that presentation has been asked to reference BBC HD because we've found that it is the most effective way of making it clear that viewers do need to change channel to watch the programme in HD. There is a huge amount of confusion still - albeit not on this blog - around the HD viewing experience and we have found that simply telling people that a programme is "also available on BBC HD" doesn't always help them to find the HD version.
The comments on encoders do not go unnoticed - rest assured wednesday83 and others - there is work underway but unfortunately going first down the path to HD does inevitably mean that later entrants can buy later generations of equipment, and it would not be best use of your licence fees to replace kit before it had served its useful life.
Finally, Sue_Aitch makes a good point about information on ceefax and red button help. I've passed it on to the relevant people and I'm hopeful that it is something that can be fixed.
I hope this covers most points - I really have nothing further to say on the subject of DOGs.
All the best
Danielle Nagler is Head of BBC HD, BBC Vision