BBC HD is a high-definition television
High-definition television
High-definition television is video that has resolution substantially higher than that of traditional television systems . HDTV has one or two million pixels per frame, roughly five times that of SD...

 network provided by the BBC. The service was initially run as a trial from 15 May 2006 until becoming a full service on 1 December 2007. The first HD originated programme to be shown on the channel was Planet Earth
Planet Earth (TV series)
Planet Earth is a 2006 television series produced by the BBC Natural History Unit. Five years in the making, it was the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC, and also the first to be filmed in high definition...

, shown on 27 May 2006.

The broadcasts are generally six to nine hours per day, and include simulcasts with other BBC channels, such as Top Gear, Doctor Who
Doctor Who
Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS that flies through time and space, whose exterior...

, Michael Palin's New Europe
Michael Palin's New Europe
Michael Palin's New Europe is a travel documentary presented by Michael Palin and first aired in the UK on the BBC in 2007 and in the US on the Travel Channel on Monday January 28, 2008. Palin visits 20 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The filming was done in 2006 and early 2007 using HD ...

and Hustle
Hustle (TV series)
Hustle is a British television drama series made by Kudos Film and Television for BBC One in the United Kingdom. Created by Tony Jordan and first broadcast in 2004, the series follows a group of con artists who specialise in "long cons" – extended deceptions which require greater commitment, but...

, and replays of HD programmes such as Planet Earth
Planet Earth (TV series)
Planet Earth is a 2006 television series produced by the BBC Natural History Unit. Five years in the making, it was the most expensive nature documentary series ever commissioned by the BBC, and also the first to be filmed in high definition...

, Bleak House, Torchwood
Torchwood is a British science fiction television programme created by Russell T Davies. The series is a spin-off from Davies's 2005 revival of the long-running science fiction programme Doctor Who. The show has shifted its broadcast channel each series to reflect its growing audience, moving from...

, and Hotel Babylon
Hotel Babylon
Hotel Babylon was a BBC television drama series based on the book of the same name by Imogen Edwards-Jones, that aired from 19 January 2006 to 14 August 2009, produced by independent production company Carnival Films for BBC One...

. Live coverage of events such as The Proms
The Proms
The Proms, more formally known as The BBC Proms, or The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts presented by the BBC, is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in London...

, Wimbledon Tennis Championships
The Championships, Wimbledon
The Championships, Wimbledon, or simply Wimbledon , is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, considered by many to be the most prestigious. It has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London since 1877. It is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the other three Majors...

, the Eurovision Song Contest
Eurovision Song Contest
The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual competition held among active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union .Each member country submits a song to be performed on live television and then casts votes for the other countries' songs to determine the most popular song in the competition...

, the FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup, often simply the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association , the sport's global governing body...

, and the Concert for Diana
Concert for Diana
Concert for Diana was a concert held at the then new Wembley Stadium in London, England, United Kingdom in honour of Diana, Princess of Wales, on 1 July 2007, which would have been her 46th birthday; 31 August that year brought the 10th anniversary of her death...

 have already been shown, with the first live event to be broadcast being the opening World Cup game between Germany
Germany national football team
The Germany national football team is the football team that has represented Germany in international competition since 1908. It is governed by the German Football Association , which was founded in 1900....

 and Costa Rica
Costa Rica national football team
The Costa Rica national football team, nicknamed La Sele, is the national team of Costa Rica and is controlled by the Federación Costarricense de Fútbol. Costa Rica is the third most successful team in CONCACAF after Mexico and the United States...

 on 9 June 2006.

When high-definition programmes are not being shown, the channel broadcasts a looped preview containing clips from BBC HD programmes.

Initially the trial lasted 12 months, after which the BBC Trust
BBC Trust
The BBC Trust is the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation. It is operationally independent of BBC management and external bodies, and aims to act in the best interests of licence fee payers....

 agreed to a Public Value Test (PVT) which began on 21 May 2007 and the BBC extended its own HD trial, which was to end in June, until the end of the PVT process. It was announced on 19 November 2007 by the BBC Trust that following the PVT they had approved the BBC Executive's high definition television proposals to allow the launch of UK's first free-to-air, mixed-genre public service HD channel.

On 13 July 2011, it was announced that head of HD and 3D; Danielle Nagler would leave the BBC in September. BBC HD continued, although Broadcast claimed that it would provide a service which would be closer (but not entirely) a simulcast of BBC Two. It was later revealed, however, that reports of BBC Two HD were incorrect. On 6 October 2011 following the BBC's Delivering Quality First review, it was proposed that BBC HD will be closed and replaced with a single high definition version of BBC Two in 2012, as part of cost-cutting plans. The cuts won't be implemented until after a consultation by the BBC Trust, which runs until 21 December 2011.

Technical details and availability

BBC HD is available to viewers of the Astra 2D
Astra 2D
Astra 2D is one of a group of Astra communications satellites operated by SES, located at 28.2° east in the Clarke Belt. It is a Hughes HS-376 craft, and was launched from the Guiana Space Centre in December 2000....

 satellite with suitable reception equipment. The channel was also broadcast as a digital terrestrial (DVB-T
DVB-T is an abbreviation for Digital Video Broadcasting — Terrestrial; it is the DVB European-based consortium standard for the broadcast transmission of digital terrestrial television that was first published in 1997 and first broadcast in the UK in 1998...

) service from London's Crystal Palace Transmitter
Crystal Palace Transmitter
The Crystal Palace transmitting station is a broadcasting and telecommunications site in the Crystal Palace area of the London Borough of Bromley, England .Its tower is the third-tallest structure in London...

 until May 2007, enabling the channel to be viewed by a selected trial group of 450 companies and homes.

Both the satellite and terrestrial broadcasts are free to air, which means that anybody with the necessary equipment will be able to view the channel. The cable broadcast is available through Virgin Media's basic television package.

Until 2 April 2010, when ITV1 HD was made available to all platforms, the BBC was only terrestrial broadcaster to offer a "platform neutral" HD offering. Channel 4 HD is currently available through Freesat, Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media. ITV, Channel 4 and Five also took part in the terrestrial HD trials from London's Crystal Palace Transmitter, ITV also made their trial available through the Telewest cable service.

The BBC HD channel launches on digital terrestrial television on a region-by-region basis, starting on 2 December 2009 and ending in 2012.

The UK broadcasts are typically at a resolution of 1440x1080i and encoded in MPEG-4 H.264/AVC on satellite and terrestrial television and in MPEG-2 on cable. Although it is not 1920x1080, the resolution is within European Broadcasting Union
European Broadcasting Union
The European Broadcasting Union is a confederation of 74 broadcasting organisations from 56 countries, and 49 associate broadcasters from a further 25...

 specifications for HD.

On 27 April 2010, BBC HD launched on Sky Ireland platform in Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. Before this date, BBC HD was only available in the UK on Sky. BBC HD has also been available on UPC Ireland
UPC Ireland
UPC Ireland is Liberty Global Europe's telecommunications operation in Ireland. UPC Ireland is the largest digital cable television provider within the Republic of Ireland. As of September 2010 the company offers broadband internet, digital television and digital telephony to over 531,000 customers...

 since the launch of their Digital+ HD service on 5 August 2009.

From 3 November 2010, BBC HD is statistically multiplexed
Statistical multiplexing
Statistical multiplexing is a type of communication link sharing, very similar to dynamic bandwidth allocation . In statistical multiplexing, a communication channel is divided into an arbitrary number of variable bit-rate digital channels or data streams. The link sharing is adapted to the...

 on satellite with BBC One HD.

Between 22 and 23 March 2011 changes were made to the Freeview HD encoder to enable automatic switching between 1080i/25 and 1080p/25 according to the material being broadcast. This selection is made automatically by assessing each GOP
Group of pictures
In Video coding, a group of pictures, or GOP structure, specifies the order in which intra- and inter-frames are arranged. The GOP is a group of successive pictures within a coded video stream. Each coded video stream consists of successive GOPs...

. Unfortunately some manufactures of receiver do not handle the transitions between the modes well, resulting in sound and picture disruption. This was extended to all of the other Freeview HD channels in October 2011.

On 6 June 2011, the satellite transponder
Transponder (Satellite communications)
A communications satellite’s transponder, is the series of interconnected units which form a communications channel between the receiving and the transmitting antennas .A transponder is typically composed of:...

 carrying BBC One HD and BBC HD was upgraded to DVB-S2.

BBC HD broadcast the men's and women's finals of the 2011 Wimbledon Championships
2011 Wimbledon Championships
The 2011 Wimbledon Championships took place at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London, England, from 20 June to 3 July 2011. It was the 125th edition of the championships, and the third Grand Slam tournament of the year. It was played on grass courts and was part of the...

 live in 3D
3D television
A 3D television is a television set that employs techniques of 3D presentation, such as stereoscopic capture, multi-view capture, or 2D-plus-depth, and a 3D display – a special viewing device to project a television program into a realistic three-dimensional field.- History :In the late-1890's,...

 between 2 July and 3 July 2011. To facilitate this, the horizontal resolution increased from 1440 pixels to 1920 between 13 June and 6 July. BBC HD will also air the final of Strictly Come Dancing series nine
Strictly Come Dancing (series 9)
The ninth series of Strictly Come Dancing began on 10 September 2011 with a Launch Show, and the live shows started on 30 September and 1 October 2011. The show was broadcast from Wembley Arena on 19 November with all proceeds going to the BBC charity, Children in Need...

 in 3D during December 2011.

2009 bitrate drop

On 5 August 2009, BBC HD switched to new transmission encoders, and satellite bitrates on Astra 2D dropped by nearly 40% (from 16Mbs to 9.7Mbs), leading to a large number of complaints of poor picture quality. The cable version has remained at 17Mbs and is encoded by Virgin Media themselves, while the later launched terrestrial version is statistically multiplexed between 3Mbs and 17Mbs.

European Broadcasting Union
European Broadcasting Union
The European Broadcasting Union is a confederation of 74 broadcasting organisations from 56 countries, and 49 associate broadcasters from a further 25...

 (of which the BBC is a member) documents (EBU Tech 3328 and 3334) recommend that the 1080i HD TV format should run at a minimum bitrate of 12Mbps to 14Mbps. Andy Quested, BBC principal technologist, said that the documents were issued in May 2008, which was "long before" the BBC started testing on the new encoders. "Tests have demonstrated that at transmission bitrates, H264 encoders should deliver approximately a 2:1 efficiency over MPEG-2 encoders. Depending on the manufacturer and their current stage of development good HD at 8-10Mbps is achievable now." Quested also pointed out that EBU Tech 3334 says, "With the expected future developments in video coding, it is assumed that HD fixed bitrate requirements will be reduced to 8Mbps to 10Mbps per programme. There will also be advances in the transmission system such as DVB-T2."

By mid-December 2009 the BBC had received around 130 complaints on the issue, one of which was sent to the BBC Trust
BBC Trust
The BBC Trust is the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation. It is operationally independent of BBC management and external bodies, and aims to act in the best interests of licence fee payers....

. Tests run by consumer publication Which?
Which? is a product-testing and consumer campaigning charity with a magazine, website and various other services run by Which? Ltd ....

, published in December 2009, found no significant decline in picture quality on the BBC HD channel, labelling the difference in picture quality between the new and old BBC HD broadcasts as "insignificant". A petition was added to the official Number10
10 Downing Street
10 Downing Street, colloquially known in the United Kingdom as "Number 10", is the headquarters of Her Majesty's Government and the official residence and office of the First Lord of the Treasury, who is now always the Prime Minister....

 website in December 2009, petitioning Prime Minister Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown
James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

 to bring the BBC in line with current European Broadcasting Union standards by restoring the higher transmission bandwidth on the channel, after the BBC remained steadfast in its belief that there is not actually a problem on the channel.

BBC HD continues to broadcast to the rest of Europe at around 16Mbps with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels.

On 30 April 2010, a delegation of viewers unhappy about the picture and sound quality on BBC HD met Quested and BBC HD controller Danielle Nagler at BBC Television Centre
BBC Television Centre
BBC Television Centre at White City in West London is the headquarters of BBC Television. Officially opened on 29 June 1960, it remains one of the largest to this day; having featured over the years as backdrop to many BBC programmes, it is one of the most readily recognisable such facilities...

 to discuss the "current poor picture quality level of the corporation's flagship high definition television service". They argued that BBC HD is failing in its obligation to "deliver a very high quality technical service to viewers, by adhering to, or seeking to exceed, industry standards for picture resolution".

Paul Eaton, who has also appealed to the BBC Trust about the channel's technical quality, said: "The BBC should increase the bitrate for its HD channel on satellite to 14-16Mbps, and increase picture resolution from 1440x1080 to 1920x1080 to be in-line with the majority of other HD broadcasters." Following the meeting the BBC Trust provided him with a detailed response to his complaint and the full results of the ITU test that had been undertaken.

From 3 June 2010, the BBC launched a number of picture quality improvements for BBC HD; the changes included variable bitrate
Variable bitrate
Variable bitrate is a term used in telecommunications and computing that relates to the bitrate used in sound or video encoding. As opposed to constant bitrate , VBR files vary the amount of output data per time segment...

 encoding, a fix for mix/fade problems and a new approach to noise in pictures. Variable bitrate encoding allows the broadcaster to maintain the same average bandwidth, while increasing the bitrate for more demanding scenes such as fast movement. The ‘mix/fade’ fix treats a specific problem in changing scenes, while a configuration change for ‘noisy’ video means the BBC no longer needs to use noise reduction, which often reduced the overall picture quality. John Temperley, of the BBC HD Campaign, said: "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."

International versions

It was announced in September 2006 that BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide
BBC Worldwide Limited is the wholly owned commercial subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation, formed out of a restructuring of its predecessor BBC Enterprises in 1995. In the year to 31 March 2010 it made a profit of £145m on a turnover of £1.074bn. The company had made a profit of £106m...

 planned to broadcast an international version of BBC HD in the near future.

In Australia, an Australian version of BBC HD was broadcast on the Foxtel HD+ service which was made available to subscribers on 2 June 2008 and was officially launched at the end of June 2008. On 15 November 2009 it was replaced on Foxtel HD+ by UKTV HD.

During the first broadcast of BBC World News America, it was announced that BBC America
BBC America
BBC America is an American television network, owned and operated by BBC Worldwide, and available on both cable and satellite.-History:The channel launched on March 29, 1998, broadcasting comedy, drama and lifestyle programs from BBC Television and other British television broadcasters like ITV and...

 HD would be launched in 2008. However, the HD version did not begin broadcasting until 20 July 2009.

BBC HD started broadcasting to the Scandinavian
BBC HD Scandinavia
BBC HD Scandinavia is a television channel broadcasting high-definition programming to Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark. The channel is also included in HD Cable Platform Teledünya in Turkey....

 countries in 2008. A localised Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

n feed started in 2011.

BBC HD service

The BBC has been approved to provide a service of nine hours per day, 15:00 to midnight, with some flexibility to extend beyond this to allow for the coverage of significant live sport or other events. The BBC Trust stated that the service should be available on cable and satellite as soon as the service licence was effective, and the channel had its official launch on 1 December 2007. The decision to provide an early Freeview four-hour overnight schedule has been put on hold with the preferred option being to provide the full nine-hour service as soon as possible, this would be reviewed in spring 2008 when there would be greater clarity over spectrum bandwidth and broadcast standards for digital television.

The BBC HD channel is a mixed-genre service. Its aim, as far as possible, is to showcase programmes produced in HD from the schedules of other BBC channels. These are broadcast in HD end-to-end, not converted from standard definition (SD). Any individual programme may contain up to 25 per cent of non-HD material converted from SD — for example, archive shots in a documentary. It must be noted that some high definition recording formats like HDV
HDV is a format for recording of high-definition video on DV cassette tape. The format was originally developed by JVC and supported by Sony, Canon and Sharp...

 as well as some film formats like 16 mm
16 mm film
16 mm film refers to a popular, economical gauge of film used for motion pictures and non-theatrical film making. 16 mm refers to the width of the film...

 are considered by BBC to be "non-HD".

The content comes from across the BBC's portfolio of television channels. It was found by the BBC Trust from the PVT that there was considerable support for BBC HD to show programmes in prime time that would most benefit from the uplift to HD, and not to be just a channel that would simulcast
Simulcast, shorthand for "simultaneous broadcast", refers to programs or events broadcast across more than one medium, or more than one service on the same medium, at the same time. For example, Absolute Radio is simulcast on both AM and on satellite radio, and the BBC's Prom concerts are often...

 BBC One programmes at this time.

On 28 May 2010, it was announced that BBC HD Channel will extend its regular broadcast hours from around nine hours a day to twelve. The announcement coincided with that of BBC One HD, a high definition simulcast of BBC One, which began transmitting on 3 November 2010. This leaves the separate BBC HD channel to showcase the rest of the BBC.

While the channel is off-air, the BBC broadcasts the 'BBC HD Preview', which shows clips of programmes featured on the channel as a means of self promotion for the service. These clips are interdispersed with the BBC HD ident and the tuning signal Test Card X
Test Card X
Test Card X is a BBC testcard, used on the BBC HD channel, designed for 1080 line vision. It includes a picture of Carole Hersee and Bubbles the clown, which also appears on the BBC testcards Test Card F, Test Card J and Test Card W. The testcard can be viewed every two hours as part of the BBC HD...

 and BLITS, which test the picture quality and position and the quality of surround sound respectively.

Worldwide events

So far, the BBC has broadcast the 2006 World Cup, Wimbledon, Open Golf, England football internationals, action from the FA Cup
FA Cup
The Football Association Challenge Cup, commonly known as the FA Cup, is a knockout cup competition in English football and is the oldest association football competition in the world. The "FA Cup" is run by and named after The Football Association and usually refers to the English men's...

 and Six Nations rugby
Six Nations Championship
The Six Nations Championship is an annual international rugby union competition involving six European sides: England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales....

 in high-definition. The US Masters golf from Augusta National
Augusta National Golf Club
Augusta National Golf Club, located in Augusta, Georgia, is a famous men's golf club. Founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts and designed by Alister MacKenzie on the site of a former indigo plantation, the club opened for play in January 1933. Since 1934, it has played host to the annual...

 was screened in HD for the first time in 2007.
The Eurovision Song Contest
Eurovision Song Contest
The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual competition held among active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union .Each member country submits a song to be performed on live television and then casts votes for the other countries' songs to determine the most popular song in the competition...

 was also broadcast live in high-definition on BBC HD, these include 2007
Eurovision Song Contest 2007
The Eurovision Song Contest 2007 was the 52nd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. It was won by first-time appearance as an independent country Serbia and was held at the Hartwall Areena in Helsinki, Finland from 10 May to 12 May. The host broadcaster was YLE.Finland earned the right to host...

, 2008
Eurovision Song Contest 2008
The Eurovision Song Contest 2008 was the 53rd edition of the Contest. It was hosted in Belgrade, Serbia after Marija Šerifović won the 2007 Contest in Helsinki, Finland. This year was the first contest to have two semi-finals which were held on 20 and 22 May, and the final held on 24 May 2008...

, 2009
Eurovision Song Contest 2009
The Eurovision Song Contest 2009 was the 54th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest and was hosted by Russia after their win in 2008. It took place between 12 and 16 May 2009 at the Olympic Indoor Arena in Moscow, Russia....

, 2010
Eurovision Song Contest 2010
The Eurovision Song Contest 2010 was the 55th annual Eurovision Song Contest, broadcast from the Telenor Arena in Bærum, Greater Oslo, Norway. It was the third time Norway had hosted the contest, having previously done so in 1986 and 1996. The 2010 winner was Germany with Lena singing "Satellite",...

, 2011
Eurovision Song Contest 2011
The Eurovision Song Contest 2011 was the 56th annual Eurovision Song Contest and was won by Eldar & Nigar performing "Running Scared" for Azerbaijan. The event took place in the Esprit Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany, following Germany's win in the previous year...

 and is likely to broadcast upcoming contests in the same way.

The Euro 2008 Championships were broadcast during June and from 8 August, BBC HD showed coverage of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games
Paralympic Games
The Paralympic Games are a major international multi-sport event where athletes with a physical disability compete; this includes athletes with mobility disabilities, amputations, blindness, and Cerebral Palsy. There are Winter and Summer Paralympic Games, which are held immediately following their...

, considerably extending the channel's operating hours to do so. Coverage of the Australian Open and French Open tennis tournaments in HD, which the BBC hold the rights to along with Eurosport
Eurosport is a pan-European television sport network operated by French broadcaster TF1 Group. The network of channels are available in 59 countries, in 20 different languages providing viewers with European and international sporting events...

 started in 2009. BBC Sport officials have indicated that they hope to offer all of their output in HD by 2012, based on the availabilities of global feeds and planned new studios or HD-friendly renovations in London and Manchester.

The BBC also showed live coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics
2010 Winter Olympics
The 2010 Winter Olympics, officially the XXI Olympic Winter Games or the 21st Winter Olympics, were a major international multi-sport event held from February 12–28, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with some events held in the suburbs of Richmond, West Vancouver and the University...

 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup
2010 FIFA World Cup
The 2010 FIFA World Cup was the 19th FIFA World Cup, the world championship for men's national association football teams. It took place in South Africa from 11 June to 11 July 2010...

 in HD.

As well as sport, the 2009 United States presidential inauguration was also shown on the channel and coverage of the 2010 United Kingdom General Election

See also

  • High-definition television in the United Kingdom
    High-definition television in the United Kingdom
    High-definition television in the United Kingdom is available via cable, IPTV, satellite and terrestrial television. The first high-definition broadcasts began in 2006 and the number of channels has grown to 65 ....

  • BBC HD Scandinavia
    BBC HD Scandinavia
    BBC HD Scandinavia is a television channel broadcasting high-definition programming to Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark. The channel is also included in HD Cable Platform Teledünya in Turkey....

External links

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