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A Significant Step towards an All-HD Future

Kieran Clifton

Director, BBC Distribution & Business Development

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Since February, when I started as director of the BBC’s newly-formed Distribution & Business Development department, we’ve brought together the BBC’s broadcast distribution team (responsible for the transmission of our TV and radio services) and our online syndication team (making products like BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport and BBC News available on connected TV platforms, smartphones, tablets and televisions) – two teams both responsible for connecting you with BBC programmes and services.
Together we navigate an increasingly complex and competitive media landscape to bring the best public services to everyone at exceptional quality and value.

Making HD available across the country is an important part of that mission.

We’re committed to ensuring you have convenient access to our programmes and services in the best quality. Today, we make and make available all programmes in high definition (HD) on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies and BBC News.

All our channels are available free to air across all platforms (including Freeview, Freesat, YouView, Sky and Virgin Media, and directly over the internet through BBC iPlayer) and can be received by the vast majority of HD-enabled homes. To ensure that you have access to nationally-varied content we distribute four different versions of BBC One HD – for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We would like to be able to deliver English regional news and current affairs programming to all 15 English regions in HD. Currently we provide a clear on-air message encouraging English viewers back to the SD versions of our service for local news, but this is far from ideal. Another HD gap we would like to fill is the lack of HD versions of BBC Two Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In July 2013 we publicly expressed our intention to address these issues. Since that time we have been planning the effective execution of the complex technical deployment required and assessing the cost to deliver the best value we can for you. I am pleased to announce that the BBC Executive and BBC Trust have agreed that the introduction of BBC One English regional versions and BBC Two national versions in HD will be proposed as part of our distribution plans for the next Charter period. At the point funding is approved, as soon as possible within the next Charter period beginning in 2017, we will begin rolling these out, a process likely to take 12-24 months.

In the meantime, to guarantee our content remains universally available we’ll continue to keep the SD English regional versions of BBC One and three national versions of BBC Two on the most prominent channel numbers on all television platforms – as well as making non-regionalised HD versions of the channels available in the lowest number position.

Throughout the process we’ll continue to monitor audience behaviour and industry activity, and will report to the BBC Executive and Trust if anything significant changes.

I look forward to all the BBC’s television services being prominently available on all platforms in HD, and see this decision as a significant step towards that goal.

Kieran Clifton is Director of BBC Distribution & Business Development.

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