« Previous | Main | Next »

BBC R&D wins award for developing Freeview HD standard

Post categories:

Matthew Postgate Matthew Postgate | 15:15 UK time, Monday, 13 September 2010

Matthew collects the award

Left to right: Ulrich Reimers, Chairman of the DVB Technical Module; Alan Boyle, BBC Distribution; Dr. Nick Wells, BBC R&D and IBC representative David Crawford.

I'm writing from the annual IBC event in Amsterdam where last night BBC R&D were recognised once again for work which has fundamentally changed the broadcasting industry and improved the viewing experience for audiences in the UK. The BBC - both R&D and Distribution - and the DVB organisation have won the award for 'Most innovative use of technology in content delivery' for the work that enabled us to get HD services on to the Freeview platform in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

BBC R&D led a team of over 70 engineers from more than 50 partner organisations collaborating within the DVB. The work on the standard was completed in an incredibly short time to meet the deadline. Our colleagues in BBC Distribution then picked up the baton to achieve a technical launch in December last year and a consumer launch in April 2010; just in time to meet the deadline.

I'm really proud of the people across the department and the wider BBC who put so much into the project. I would like to give a huge thanks to the core BBC R&D team for their all consuming efforts over the two and half years it took to complete: Nick Wells, Chris Nokes, Justin Mitchell, Ollie Haffenden, Phil Layton, Andrew Cotton, Andrew Murphy, Martin Thorp, Chris Clarke, John Elliot and Jonathan Stott. Thanks also to the many people we worked with during the project including the BBC Distribution team working with Alan Boyle and Graham Plumb along with Professor Ulrich Reimers, the chairman of the DVB Technical Module.

This award is especially important as it recognises one of the best things about the department and the engineering contribution of BBC. It is a project where our expertise was deployed alongside a wide range of partners and the results have really benefitted both the industry and the experience of audiences. I hope it will be the first of many that we will be bringing back to our new laboratories in London or Manchester.

Matthew Postgate is Controller, R&D.


  • Comment number 1.

    If they'd taken a bit more time we could have had 1080p50.

  • Comment number 2.

    Perhap now more space will be kept back for HD services instead of selling most of the 'analogue' dividend off to the highest bidder.

    Cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 3.

    More space for HD? They've sold off so much spectrum that there's only 2-3 HD channels on Freeview HD. With 5 channels after a few years. That's not much. They should have not sold the spectrum off so we could have had a much better Freeview HD system.

  • Comment number 4.

    You're heading away from what this post is about. Please stay on-topic.

  • Comment number 5.

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

  • Comment number 6.

    It was Freeview HD that was the demise for picture quality being reduced on the Satellite platform. Whilst I applaud the development becoming a reality for viewers, but not at the expense of quality. There is always going to be a limitation of HD for the freeview platform.

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    @4 Paul Murphy wrote:
    You're heading away from what this post is about. Please stay on-topic.

    The 3 posts before this were about HD and Freeview.
    The title of the blog is "BBC R&D wins award for developing Freeview HD standard"

    Therefore, what exactly is off topic about those posts?
    And if it isn't about Freeview HD, what is the topic?

  • Comment number 9.

    The topic of this post is "...the work that enabled us to get HD services on to the Freeview platform in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup." It's not a general message board for all things BBC HD related.

    Please stay on topic.


  • Comment number 10.

    Congratulations to the team it’s interesting to learn the scale and undertaking on project like this.
    I see it didn’t take long for the usual protagonists to crawl out of the woodwork at the mere mention of HD in a title! @8 The title of the blog is BBC R&D wins award for developing Freeview HD standard. Not a discussion forum for bitrates picture quality so on so forth…… quite simple!

  • Comment number 11.

    The Freeview HD standard they created (rushed, so they omitted 1080p50) is very relavent to picture quality because, now that they have rushed it, and sold off the TV spectrum, we won't have the picture we could have had, or the number of HD channels on the Freeview HD system this blog is about them winning the award for.

    But congratulations to them for winning the award, but I wish they had not sold off any of the spectrum, and had waited a while so they could have added 1080p50 and other things (eg. 3D, frame rates, resolutions etc.) and more into the standard, so we would have had a much better Freeview HD system than the one we got by rushing so that it was done in time for some event.

    I'd rather we had a quality HDTV system (Freeview HD) that took a little bit longer, than one that was rushed and lower quality.

  • Comment number 12.

    #post 10 markysparky12345

    I hope that your post didn't relate to my post - #post 2

    My comment referred directly to this achievement - but that it's a shame that so little use can be made of it given that the bandwidth to host HD has be restricted to a narrow allocation of space.

    All this work could be put to better use in the UK if more bandwidth had been ring-fenced for just this type of inovation.

    Cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 13.

    Congratulations to the R&D people for DVB-T2. It's a great achievement, and a good reminder that there are people in BBC Engineering working hard to push the boundaries of what's possible in broadcasting.

    It's worth pointing out that the award is for DVB-T2, rather than specifically for the UK's FreeviewHD service. And in my view very well deserved.

  • Comment number 14.

    I think everyone congratulates the R&D team on a truly remarkable achievement; squeezing a quart into a pint pot and managing to do it to a tight deadline too. Well done to them all. Having met some of them I've seen first hand how dedicated they are. They deserve more than just an award!

    Markysparky12345, I'm sure your "usual protagnists" concur with that sentiment but have come out of the woodwork simply to express regret at the decisions made by certain others which, surely, must have put the team under unnecessary pressure. I'm in total agreement with daveac at #12; despite the hard work from R&D we still have a Freeview HD system that isn't as good as it could be.

    Matthew, Paul, Nick, I agree that you should shout from the rooftops to applaud the successes of your dedicated staff. However, I don't believe that the issues that have caused those exceptional people to have to work so hard should be brushed under the carpet, nor hidden in the closet. The people responsible for such obtuse decision making should be made accountable and, I hope, hanging their heads in shame. I doubt that they will be though; they've probably been given a bonus and promoted.

  • Comment number 15.

    Paul - as I've already said this is not a general post about all things BBC HD.

    The question of HD picture quality has been debated and discussed at great length on this blog and elsewhere. You have had your say and put your point of view, even to the point of publishing blog posts written by you. BBC executives and others have responded to you both on the blog and face to face. The BBC Trust has now given it's opinion on the subject. So I am not going to reopen the BBC HD picture quality discussion until there is some kind of development or update worth discussing.

    Any more off topic comments of this type will be removed. So please stay on topic.


  • Comment number 16.

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

  • Comment number 17.

    Nick, thanks for your comments about mine but with respect I think Burnlea is right, I'm not trying to reopen the PQ debate at all. The Trust has ruled that PQ is as good as we are going to get and, if that's there decision, then I just have to accept it.

    I'm also more than satisfied with the explanation I saw today for another question regarding Freeview HD v satellite HD., which I felt had been left answered throughout my year long campaign, Rupert Brun, head of technology BBC Audio and Music, actually answered it very well for me, albeit in the context of HQ BBC Audio when he said:

    "Q: Why not send a high quality feed by satellite?
    A: The investment needed would be significant. At present we use the same infrastructure to feed our national radio stations to all TV platforms, both terrestrial and satellite. There is not sufficient capacity on terrestrial TV to transmit increased bit rates, so to raise the bit rate on satellite TV we would need to feed satellite TV at one bit rate and terrestrial TV at another. In order to do this we would need to invest in a lot of new equipment and create entirely separate systems to feed satellite TV. This would be very expensive even before the additional satellite costs are considered."

    That's the kind of straight-talking answer that I can fully understand and accept. Thanks for the honesty and the speedy response Rupert!

    No Nick, I was trying to stay on the topic of BBC R&D winning an award for DVB T2. They did a great job and I applaud their success, I'll say no more.

  • Comment number 18.

    ...except I meant "left unanswered"!


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.