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BBC Agrees to Improve HD Broadcast Quality

Gordon Kelly


BBC Agrees to Improve HD Broadcast Quality

Enjoying the World Cup in glorious HD? No, I didn't think so either (just focus on the French), but at least from a technical standpoint the outlook is good...

Proving that pressure groups can indeed make a difference this week is news the BBC HD Campaign has successfully lobbied the Beeb to improve the quality of its High Definition signal following a successful face-to-face meeting. Primary changes include VBR (variable bit rate encoding), picture noise reduction and a number of fixes for glitches the station has encountered in recent months.

"We are pleased to see that after nearly a year of campaigning, BBC HD has taken these measures and, as we expected all along, the results have been a significant improvement in picture quality. "We feel these improvements vindicate our campaign, which will now continue with attempts to move the BBC to a Full HD service with a resolution of 1920x1080."

This last request is somewhat fanciful given the massive bandwidth required to send Full HD broadcasts, but the group did have a point regarding the current BBC HD channel which had dropped encoding from 16Mbit/sec to just 9.7Mbit/sec in August. This fell below both Sky's HD broadcasts and even the HD footage provided by BBC Worldwide to other European broadcasters. In response the Beeb simply released this super short stagement:

"The BBC is pleased that viewers feel that this set of changes has enhanced their experience of HD."

We await specifics on the changes and an official date for when these changes will be sent down to our magical moving picture boxes, but until then we'll be keeping our eyes locked to BBC HD - starting with Portugal v North Korea this afternoon...

Source: What satellite & Digital TV


June 21, 2010, 6:58 am

At least you get all the goals on BBC HD unlike with a certain other terrestrial HD operator.

Anyway, (missed goals aside) the World Cup's looked pretty good in HD for me so far - BBC or ITV.


June 21, 2010, 8:54 am

wow 04:53am (B.S.T.) and you've made this post ? Reason why I checked is that I'm also going to be watching the North Korea match - the "this afternoon" part made me check the time.

Off to bed ...


June 21, 2010, 11:28 am

Out of interest, what kind of bitrates are other channels outputting currently? (ITV1 HD, E4 HD, Channel4 HD etc etc).


June 21, 2010, 1:55 pm

'Primary changes include VBR (variable bit rate encoding), picture noise reduction'

VBR fine as long as the other channels on the mux are idling at the time. So basically they are going to reduce the dynamic range of the picture and smooth away the awkward detail (eg grain on movies) before they encode. I don't read anything about additional bandwidth.

Simple truth is there are too many channels on the mux - 4 (and talk of 5) is just silly. Max should have been two, possibly 3 .. otherwise we'll end up at (further) reduced resolution (a-la almost every freeview SD channel). How did it come to this?

Gareth Burleigh

June 21, 2010, 2:29 pm

Id think the 4 group of channels will be the lowest 4HD and E4 look terrible at times @pspr33


June 21, 2010, 4:11 pm

I use a powered signal booster/splitter to feed the aerial signal into the bedrooms of my house. Any thoughts on whether an HD signal is going to be OK going through that? I'd really like to find out before upgrading to one of the newer HD Freeview STBs.


June 21, 2010, 4:57 pm

@cliche - no, it was set live at midnight. The powers of illusion ;)


June 21, 2010, 6:31 pm

I know we're talking about the Freeview and Freesat streams, but the Virgin Media stream suffers from 'noisiness' and some macro blocking too. ITV1HD is still FAR worse than BBCHD though.


June 21, 2010, 11:36 pm

Hey, while we are at it can we also get rid of the dolts who are responsible for all this mess in the fist place and failing to provide us licence fee payers a full BBC-HD etc. Starting with Head of BBC-HD: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/tv/...


June 22, 2010, 5:29 am

ah well 7-0 score


June 22, 2010, 9:23 am

@cliche - and it looked great ;)


June 22, 2010, 8:05 pm

Until they start broadcasting in 1080p they should stop calling it HD! Perhaps call it BBC "semi-HD" service or "Not quite proper HD" service.


June 23, 2010, 2:20 am

@Mike337 it's still HD even if it's 1080i as it is now and probably will be for many years.


June 23, 2010, 3:41 am

The best part? The North Korea v Portugal game was the first footy game ever shown live in NK.


June 23, 2010, 3:47 am

@Blobby - won't be doing that again in a hurry then, I guess...

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