back to article BBC HD channel gets green light

The BBC's governing body gave a thumbs-up today to limited plans for a high definition TV channel over Sky, Freesat and cable. Terrestrial TV viewers will be frozen out until at least 2009 because regulators and industry are yet to decide how to divvy up the spectrum freed by switching off analogue transmitters. Ofcom has …


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  1. BoldMan

    What is the point?

    I've never understood this HD evangelism... I mean we get to watch the same old crap but just in higher definition? I'd rather they concentrated on making decent programs to WATCH rather than waste huge amounts on a service that really isn't required. This is just technological masturbation...

  2. Robert Long

    Re:What's the point

    The point is that "New Media" has only one business model: sell people stuff they already have. Change the format, compress it, uncompress it, add a few "extras", offer a budget version without the extras. How about a 25th aniversary edition? How about an ultimate, final, collector's edition? Now how about all the same again at twice the resolution that your screen can display and at a level of audio sampling that you can't hear?

    Bankrupt ideas from the industry that brought you Jeremy Kyle's performing ESNs.

  3. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    High definition?

    How about a simple test?

    At your normal viewing distance can you see the dots?

    If not, what s the benefit of HD?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Sod HD - what about iPlayer

    The Beeb can't even get their act together over a cross-platform iPlayer solution that's not riddled with MS's DRM shite - so why should I care a tinker's cuss over HD?

    It's OUR licence money you're spending, BBC - you are morally obligated to provide a workable service for ALL consumers, not just those who've been foolish enough to take BillG's Shilling.

  5. Steve Foster

    Stop the Waste of Bandwidth

    that is BB3 and 4, plus the seventeen BBC "radio" stations, on Freeview, and there'll be plenty of space for HD.

    Does *anyone* listen to radio via Freeview (or cable/satellite for that matter)?

  6. Frank Bough

    Several Points...

    a) High definition allows for either larger screens or greater definition - both are worth having.

    b) Why HD? Isn't progress enough of a reason? Things SHOULD get better over time. I'm of the opinion that movies on Blu-Ray look (and sound) BETTER than they do at the cinema - that's worth having IMO.

    c) I listen to radio via Freeview - it's convenient and widely enjoyed.

    d) No HD over Freeview doesn't mean HD is bad, it means Freeview is bad. Terrestrial DTV was always a waste of time - we should have moved to a satellite based system decades ago. Cheaper, higher bandwidth, more reliable, what's not to like? Well Sky, obviously.

  7. Dan
    Thumb Up

    HD is ok.

    I always used to resist HD due to my extreme myopia "I haven't got HD eyes, mate" would be my response to the salesmen in Dixons.

    Now I've actually got HD, it's like I've got some new glasses - it's pretty good.

  8. Adam Williamson

    waste of bandwidth

    Steve: you need about 2mbit/sec for okay HD quality. Radio stations are probably broadcast at 128k or lower. So removing 19 radio stations would maybe give you the bandwidth for *one* HD channel.

  9. Adam Williamson

    The point

    There isn't a lot of point in the U.K., frankly. The reason HD is important at all is the U.S. and Canada (and anywhere else that uses NTSC).

    The problem is that NTSC stinks. It looks horrible. The main advantage Americans and Canadians get from HD is far better colors and fewer artefacts. The resolution bump isn't the most important thing, though it *is* useful - yes, you're unlikely to get the *full* benefit of HD resolution with typical set sizes and viewing distances, but you are seeing *more* detail than 480i can give.

    PAL is a far better standard than NTSC. Therefore, the difference between HD and PAL is that much smaller than the difference between HD and NTSC. It *is* there, but it's not so obvious, and that'll make HD a much harder sell in Europe than it is in NTSC markets. It'll get there eventually, but only when there's almost no price difference, and only through people replacing sets they would have been replacing anyway.

    I'm in Canada, and recently moved to an HDTV set. It's interesting to watch a broadcast on one of the old analog NTSC channels, then watch a non-HD broadcast on an HD channel, then an HD broadcast. There's a far bigger difference between watching the SD broadcast via analog NTSC and watching it on an HD channel than there is between the SD-on-HD broadcast and a true HD broadcast. It can be quite difficult to tell the difference between a well-recorded SD show (or commercial) broadcast on an HD channel and a true HD broadcast, if you ignore the different aspect ratio.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    BBC pissing the money away

    once again the BBC is spending all its efforts on the minority of viewers.

    stopping pissing this money away and spend the cash on some real deliverables. then let the broadcasters choose whether or not to send it to HD to their viewers (on Sky, Virgin cable or freesat). BBC can join the HD broadcasting game in their own right once the freeview spectrum is released.

    we want some decent programs. not trash in HD.

  11. Chris Miller
    Thumb Down

    Bah humbug

    I tend to side with all those who doubt the point of HD. The good news is that it'll never happen. The point being that every HD channel takes up N (where N is something like 3 or 4, depending on the technology used) times the bandwidth of a standard definition channel. So, unless you can raise more than N times the revenue in fees or advertising, it will always pay the broadcaster to use the bandwidth for standard definition.

    For reasons beyond me, this appears to apply equally to the Beeb. I remember when DAB was introduced we were promised CD-quality data rates for Radio3. Now the data rates have been reduced to a quality level far below that of FM, just so the Beeb can produce another worthless channel aimed at 35-40 year old Albanians (or whatever).


  12. Nick B


    am I the only one who is pleased? I can't wait to get some actual free(ish) HD content, instead of watching my beautiful HDTV rot away with 90s-esque mpeg2-artefacty SD crap. Let's not forget some of the first and best HD content (eg Planet earth) was BBC..

    Other countries have got HD over terrestrial already and given that we basically cocked that up first time round it's nice to see some kind of progress. If it means having to buy a Freesat viewer, I'll probably do that rather than paying an obscene amount of money a month to Murdoch et al for advert-ridden shite that is Sky 1. If we remove some shopping channels, even better..

  13. Nick Barker

    I want to feel that HD love inside me (Eyes man, EYES)

    My grandad said something like what im reading about 50 years ago, saying that why move from black and white. Color doesnt look any better.

    In all the ages we have seen progression from one phase of technology to a newer phase. Those that dont want to progress with the times dont have to, you can stay with std Def telly's and your am radio. I for one am all but set shy the providor. I refuse to pay sky hd prices just yet. But highdef movies from a pc at 1080i? blow yer god damn sox off.

    CM, if the BEEC have produced another worthless channel for the albanians, least its not a High Deff one that they get for free with the state benefits and mobile phone top up's.

    Have a nice day!!!

  14. Anonymous Coward

    "superior compression ... HD programming"

    This would be hilarious if so many people weren't being fooled.

    If you want HD for picture quality (rather than as a simple status/wealth symbol), you DON'T want more compression (superior or not). HD is allegedly good for pictures with lots of detail and/or with lots of action. Compression is definitely bad for pictures with lots of detail and/or with lots of action. Whatever codec you're using, it can't get a quart into a pint pot. It may look OK while you're watching it "live", but for goodness sake don't try to slo-mo through anything compressed by any significant amount to get the very last ounce of detail out - that detail WON'T HAVE BEEN TRANSMITTED!

  15. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    @ Steve Foster

    Look, if you dropped EVERY radio channel, you would only get one HD channel in there at best. Drop the crap shopping channels etc and you would get another one in there.

    There is actually enough room for every channel to go HD, or will be eventually. I believe that once we are all digital, it's possible to run transmitters on common frequencies so we can use lots of frequencies that currently aren't used everywhere to avoid interference. That means lots of space for more multiplexes ...

    ... except that OfCon have no intention of allowing that. They see a chance to fill government coffers with a repeat of the 3G licences fiasco, and the way the consultation was worded indicates that they made the decision to sell off a long time ago.

  16. William Clark

    @ Steve Foster - Freeview radio

    Yes I listen to freeview radio - well sort of - I record it via a USB DTT tuner - but only because I have not found an easy to use radio recorder which works like a video recorder with the ease of programming of the better ones. I know there is

    listen again, but quality is a bit iffy and there are a few programmes which are not available.

    But I sort of agree - if the number of DTT TV channels was reduced to 10 quality ones instead of the 25ish crap plus 5 so-so ones....

  17. Andrew Fenton

    HD bandwidth

    BBC HD currently broadcasts in 16mbit, Sky uses 12-18. BBC Three and BBC Four use around 7mbit total, so if you scrapped them and all 19 radio stations you'd only just free up 10mbit. That's not even enough for very poor quality HD.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    2Mbps for HD!!

    2Mbps for HD, you must be kidding, BBC1 SD on Freeview averages ~4.5Mbps.

    The BBC trial had 1080i MPEG-4/AVC running at 16Mbps, so running at 720p isn't going to bring the bandwidth requirements down to 2Mbps. I think that the BBC said that they may be able to get an HD channel running at 12Mbps in the future with improved equipment.

    BBC are the only ones that are even trying when it comes to SD picture quality, the others have cocked up the quality on both DTT and DSAT.

    As for NTSC vs PAL as regards HD. Well we're about to switch to SD broadcasts that for the most part are worse quality than a good analogue signal, so maybe we should go for HD?!

  19. Christian Berger

    only 720p?

    Have I read that correctly? Are they really going to just do 720p? Then the difference would really be unnoticable.

    And talking about HDTV and it beeing 'invisible'. Of course on a normal TV with a normal viewing distance you will not see any difference. But for HDTV you will have _way_ bigger screens. There are companies out there building TV-sets with CRTs or LCDs with diagonals of 50cm and even larger. At such gigantic proportions you _will_ be able to see a difference. You will have TV-sets almoust as good and as large as a regular computer monitor.

  20. Andy


    Current Freeview is offered as mpeg2, a technology that's decades old and ridiculously wasteful of bandwidth. While we're mucking with TV standards so much mpeg2 should be dumped, to go with H.264; that could deliver 720p at ~6-8Mbps, 1080p at ~10-12. That's 2 or 3 current channels, respectively, and with considerably fewer blocky/smeary compression artefacts than on current Freeview.

    My fear is that although H.264 is supposed to be the eventual aim, the size of the installed base of current-gen, incompatible Freeview boxes will mean that the move will be resisted and "delayed" indefinitely by the authorities, meaning we actually benefit virtually nothing from the move to digital.

  21. Andy Anderson


    I got sent a YouGov survey recently asking about how much extra I'd be prepared to pay for existing and new HD channels on Sky - the 'new' ones being yet more sport and a compilation channel made up of HD content from selected other channels.

    I said £0, natch, but the intent of Sky seems clear, at least in the short term, and that's to keep charging even more for HD content if they can.

    On the one hand it does take more bandwidth which they could sell to another shopping/religion/reality channel, but on the other wouldn't a channel that people will actually watch be better?

  22. Timbo

    Erm.......think again people

    Just some comments to consider:

    1) A lot of programmes are currently filmed in HD, as the broadcasters have been re-equipping for some time, in order to produce better quality.

    2) The newest HDMI spec (v1.3), improves the colour depth in time, if HD broadcasts follow the HDMI spec, then the picture quality will improve enormously...

    3) If you see a native 720p or 1080i resolution broadcast (rather than one that's been upscaled from a lower reslution "source") then most people will notice a significant difference, whether on PAL or NTSC....

    4) OfCom has really messed up the entire radio and TV spectrum both on DAB as well as on DTT. They've claimed to have the consumers best interests at heart, but they are hanging on to RF spectrum on both systems for unknown reasons - it's as if they are scared to allow these digital mediums to be developed properly, so instead we have low resolution DAB and NO HD content on Freeview.....all because of a supposed "lack of bandwidth"....! Pull the other one...OfCom controls the entire licensed RF spectrum...

    5) The Olympic Games are being held in London in 2012 (assuming most people didn't know this already :-) ....and the host broadcaster (I assume it'll be the BBC), will be outputting HD content for the rest of the world, but we'll have to accept SD on's likely that the only way some UK-based people will be able to watch the Games in HD will be via a Sky HD box....and you can bet that'll still be a premium service...!

    I think it's time that OfCom had a change of management and instead of fudging things, instead took a pro-active stance and did things properly...

  23. Scott Mckenzie


    Yes, it's right because unless you sit approx 3ft from your screen you will not see the difference between 720p and 1080p... the fact it's that much better is simply not a fact at all... the BBC commissioned a study and asked a large group of volunteers to watch their programs on a normal TV in a normal room and tell them of the 2 samples they watched which was better and if they could see any difference... very, very few could - hence they went with 720p

    However 720p is a lot better than what we currently get... Progressive is far better than Interlaced, broadcasting an extra 30% more lines of detail is also a good thing. 2 things better than current = worthwhile in my book.

  24. Richard

    HD == LCD/Plasma...

    ... or so most people think.

    The main reason that people are buying HD capable TVs is that they are flat screen LCD/plasma panels that look good. I may be wrong but I suspect that many (/most?) people who buy an LCD TV and have a freeview think that they have HD, cos HD is digital or summat.

    So why would people pay extra to buy new equipment which gives them the same crap at an extra level of detail they won't notice anyway.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Freeview delay

    BBC HD on Freeview has been (during the trial) and was always planned to be MPEG4. That isn't the question mark over the Freeview service. The decision they are waiting for is whether or not UK DTT will switch to using the (as yet incomplete) DVB-T2 standard when digital switchover comes along or stick with the current DVB-T.

    The BBC wanted to avoid having consumers getting a new MPEG-4 capable box (since the vast majority of current STB's aren't) for the interim 4-hour overnight service, and then having to get a DVB-T2 capable box at switchover, when there would be enough bandwidth for the full BBC HD service on Freeview.

    Those who don't think HD channels are worthwhile clearly haven't seen Planet Earth in High Definition. I'd much rather have one HD channel showing good worthwhile programs than 4 SD channels showing useless drivel.

  26. Paul Rhodes


    I've put off taking SkyHD because of the cost, and Sky Freesat, because they pillage the HD content, so will be buying the BBC Freesat system next year.

    A fair portion of the population own HD-Ready TVs, and all this does for most people is to show the poor performance of DTT, with smears in groups of 4 times as many pixels. OfCom chief Ed Richards appears to be the one who's Technology Agnostic, as he appears not to realise that compression only works effectively on bland, slow-moving images. If every pixel has a different RGB and brightness to it's neighbour, what's to compress? Perhaps Ofcom's tests are performed on an OfCom logo on a black background?

    I'm sure this debate played out 6 years or so ago when Widescreens came out - now who in their right mind buys a 4:3 and who isn't annoyed when European football matches appear with black bars down the side!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sod HD - what about iPlayer

    I have been very polite about this before, but not now!

    As the King said to the Politician, SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP! If you chose to run OS2 or F**KING BASIC the BBC is not obliged to support you. Same as with Linux! Very few people use it! Same with OSX!

    AND they are working on it! Now Shut up crying like a little toddler whose told by his mum he can’t have a biscuit before dinner. Grow Up!


    And on HD, I don't realy care. Having seen a friends HD Sky, Im happy wwhit My HD TV for HD movies from my PS3, and wathcing normal TV for now. HD is nice, but I have no need to watch the news, or whatever, in HD (David Atinbrough documentrys would be nice though, but thats a bit much to hope for, especaly as I can watch all the past ones on Blueray)

  28. Anonymous Coward

    "diagonals of 50cm and even larger. At such gigantic proportions..."

    you'll be able to see every single compression artefact. (Especially if you meant 50 inches not 50cm).

    If you're already used to a decent 625line PAL signal, as distinct from 525line NTSC rubbish, 720pixel HDTV isn't really going to do a huge amount for you most of the time, but it will provide an "added value" marketing opportunity for a desperate industry.

  29. Neil

    Excellent news

    Heroes on BBC HD is the highlight of my week. Anyone who says it's not worth it at 720p, that you can't tell the difference from SD, waste of bandwidth yada yada yada is talking out their arse. HD looks fantastic. It's the way forward.

    All you naysayers would have been saying "Colour? What's wrong with black and white?" 40-odd years ago.

  30. Vulpes Vulpes

    @ the anonymous twerp whining about iPlayer

    "BBC - you are morally obligated to provide a workable service for ALL consumers, not just those who've been foolish enough to take BillG's Shilling."

    No, no and thrice no, you silly Billy.

    They have no moral obligation to do any such thing. They do have an obligation to get clearance from the BBC Trust before they spend dosh from the licence fee, which is precisely why they are not going to pi$$ away millions on the Linux minority.

    Now back in the corner with your little Red Hat on, and you might just get to go out at playtime.

  31. Dave

    Stop moaning

    For those of you moaning about this, shut up. You are probably watching a 15 inch CRT or just seen the rubbish Curry's HD demo on TVs not set up all sharing the same feed. Sky Hd, 720 or 1080 is great. Yes it all depends on your TV, eyesight, how far away you sit etc but the BBC HD channel has been showing some great content and in great quality. It is BBC 3 and BBC 4 that should shutup shop. Why should it be on freeview too? You want the quality you pay the price for the technology, TV License or not.

  32. Mark Bowen

    HD is great.

    Well I went HD earlier in the year when Sky ran a special offer of free installation and £100 off the HD box.

    I love it - HD is excellent.

    I don't like the extra tenner a month, but you pays your money and takes your choice. Sky has the best line up of HD channels out there, and the quality is excellent.

    More HD content and channels please...

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And another thing.......

    If the BBC got of the 100s of Digital Radio channels, that would save a bit of cash too. Why are they advertising "Black" music on my TV. "Love Black Music and "Black Music Week" and 1xtra and all that shite. I find it racist and non PC, "White Music week" anyone? "Yellow music week"?

  34. druck Silver badge

    Free to air HD is a right

    I can't believe people are arguing against the provision of HD quality broadcasts over a free to air system. They either have their head buried firmly in the sand; "who needs HD, 405 line black and white was always good enough for me", or head buried firmly up the arse of Rupert Murdock; "I get HD from Sky for only the price of the annual licence free every two months".

    Broadcast technology moves on and all TV sets are now HD ready, do you really want to either not take advantage of it, or have to pay through the nose for it? Don't let the government take away the possibility of free to air HD broadcasting, to make a few quid in a grubby spectrum action, because once done there is no possibility of going back.

  35. GrahamT

    We've been here before (several times)

    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned when Britain changed from "high definition" 405 lines VHF system to higher definition 625 lines UHF system. (1964)

    There were no cheap set-top boxes available, you had to buy a new set - and it had to be dual standard because the channels moved over one at a time. BBC2 was 625 only so if you wanted to see decent rock or arts programmes (and Joan Bakewell - the original Thinking Man's Crumpet) you needed to upgrade.

    (405 b&w wasn't shut down until 1985 and there were still complaints from people that didn't want to buy a new set)

    Then a few years later (1967) BBC2 went colour - so another new set. These early colour sets were triple the price of black and white (and triple the weight!) .

    Not forgetting of course that when ITV started in 1955 the (few) sets around were Band I only so couldn't receive ITV's Band III transmissions - and you needed a new aerial. It was years after our neighbours had ITV that our BBC-only set broke down and we finally were able to see what all the fuss was about.

    Note that the BBC was often in the lead on these technical innovations, though rarely bleeding edge (if you are, you end up with NTSC = Never The Same Colo[u]r)

    Of course we never mention that the French had a 819 line system from 1948 to 1986 (720 lines? pah!)

    Anyway, my Linux-based Panasonic LCD TV should last for a few OfCom changes of direction without having to be replaced - depends how much is in firmware and how much in custom chips..

  36. Ian Sneyd
    Thumb Up

    HD - the dogs or what - discuss...

    I agree that on paper 720p is not much better than 625i and I thought that HD was something that would be big in the US because of their abysmal NTSC standard but a bit of a damp squib over here.

    BUT once you have bought a decent size LCD/Plasma and lets face it tech workers tend to "refresh" their TV's etc a little more often than most (unless they've more money than sense) and once I had a 42" full HD box I got a bit hungry to see what 1080p looked like....

    Fire up the PS3 and the free blu-ray copy of the bond movie, 2 hours later pick up jaw from floor, go to maplins and buy HD sat receiver to hook up to the now redundant sky dish and watch the BBC1 HD preview....

    I now start praying for some decent free to air HD content, as soon as possible, I for one am happy to lose over half of the current DTV dross if it means I can watch the better channels in HD

  37. Christopher Rogers

    Combined rant

    HD TV - bring it on, it'll be worth every penny and frankly it'll get here come hell or high water. The real issue with it at the mo is cost. That and having to pay firms like Sky more money for the pleasure of watching it on the 1400quid telly you just bought. You guys can talk bandwidth till the cows come home, but the business plan accepted by the industry appears to be content first, and lots of it (even if it does result in some absolute shite) hence umpteen digital radio stations and the bucketloads of crap spread all over Sky.

    @Vulpes Vulpes - i see what you did there with the red hat joke. Don't be so condesending, its bloody rude.

    And finally, just to join the completely unrelated rant about 1xtra - i completely agree that in the relentless promotion of "black" music/culture, BBC radio is effectively enforcing some kind of apartheid. Whats wrong with sticking to the common genres like dance, classical, rock, pop, drum n bass etc for music, Storytelling, political, current affairs etc for talky type stations?

  38. Nev

    Blindly Following the US

    The media companies are pushing HD down our throats so that (as others have said) they can charge us again for watching the same old stuff.

    They are emboldened by the success of HD in the US.

    But over there, they used to have to watch stuff on the dire NTSC system so the leap to HD was a quantum one. Europe, on the other hand, doesn't have such bad picture quality to start with.


  39. Richard Proctor

    Re :We've been here before (several times) By GrahamT

    Your dead right taking the historical perspective. These previous changes each brought clear benefit. OnDigital at launch brought no comparable benefit, just low performance and umpteen channels of low-grade content. Small wonder that it folded and that BBC were co-opted into trying to advance the misbegotten digital project.

    Clearly Freeview should have been HD at launch. Instead government forced the pace in order to expedite the flogging off the analogue spectra.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    "one HD channel showing good worthwhile programs"

    I'd be quite happy with one SD channel showing good worthwhile programs that I want to watch, which the 37 channels of Freeview dross+1 don't yet seem able to manage. I don't quite see how dross in SD suddenly becomes must-see TV in HD, though I can see how multichannel TV addicts would be easy targets for the marketeers.

  41. Red Bren

    So what's on sale now?

    "The independent BBC Trustees bounced the idea on grounds it could confuse consumers and mean they buy gear that could quickly become defunct."

    So just how "funct" is the HD-ready, DVB-T telly I bought 6 months ago if terrestrial HD never happens? I'm not paying Virgin Media (or anyone else) £150 quid to install a box I still won't own to watch the 1 HD channel they currently offer.

    To be honest, like some of the other commentators on here, I'm more bothered about the quality of the content rather than the picture.

  42. Anonymous John

    Re: We've been here before (several times)

    There were Band III adaptors for the early Band I TVs. I fitted one to my parents 17 inch TV. Probably a bit later than 1955 as I was only 8 years old then.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    @anons + vulpes

    Interestingly you summed it up:

    "which is precisely why they are not going to pi$$ away millions on the Linux minority."

    This is one of the points. It should not have cost Millions. One of the issues was the money the beeb ploughed into a closed system, when it could quite of easily encompassed everyone, yes linux and OS X. I mean You tube works on them does it not? How much did that take to get started???

    . I daresay you might as well also say the beeb should not cater to any minority groups, whether it be religion, ethnicity or Wales. Why is that different from anyone who chooses a different OS?

    I think you should back to commenting on the BBC 'Have Your Say'.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    wtf - wast of bandwidth?

    @steve foster

    yes, I do listen to radio on Freeview - its called a converged device - i dont need therefore to buy a sperate FM or DAB radio.

    maybe this is why mac users are so up in arms, they buy a closed system and then complain it wont communicate with the majority of users

    a bit like being welsch and refusing to speak english!?

    i can imagine that apple users depriveded of Radio on thier ipods and now TV via the iplayer must be feeling pretty miffed at thier investment.



    I imagine when the BBC where squandering millions introducing "colour TV" there owuld have been the same people decrying its waste, after all Black and white givers you better "tonal qualities" rather than that garish colour mess!

    ok, HD is perhaps OTT for "indoor" programs as has been dicussed, but it does make "outside" programmes look nice.

    having seen an clip of torchwood on HD I can see how taht seeing actors every blemish isnt so great, i imagine it will be some time before "adult channels" switch to HD as you will see every spot on ther Ar** still maybe a 24 inch **** will distract you from the spots!?

  45. David Bird

    All this talk of how to get HD into your telly

    I use BitTorrent (which admittedly the BBC is unlikely to adopt). Not all your favourite American drama series maybe out there in HD, but some of mine are, e.g. Heroes, House and CSI. And even though it is only 720p it still looks luscious compared to the hideously compressed stuff that comes out of the cable box.

  46. Paul

    Re: @anons + vulpes

    "I daresay you might as well also say the beeb should not cater to any minority groups, whether it be religion, ethnicity or Wales. Why is that different from anyone who chooses a different OS?

    I think you should back to commenting on the BBC 'Have Your Say'."

    What utter rubbish. There is a huge gulf in diffrence between your religion or ethnicity and what OS you chose.

  47. Anonymous Coward


    Of course there is a difference between me and whatever religion I choose and what OS I choose...

    But I obviously never made my point clearly and I can only apologise. I meant that the BBC has no problem catering for or groups, whether defined by location or beliefs to one degree or another. Same can be said for lifestyles too so why not an OS? My point still has some worth...

    So when they originally came up with/ripped the idea of online content they could quite easily have made the system OS independent from that stage on. They spent (i believe) enough on it. SO when people attacked a guy for slating the beeb for not having the iPlayer ready I was merely pointing out that he has good reason. And equating linux and osx to someone running OS2 was worthy of HYS comment.

    BUt you are right. Utter rubbish of course. Thank you for showing me the error in my argument. :o)

  48. Madge Silver badge
    Thumb Down


    The difference between 720p and PAL is about the difference between PAL and VGA.

    720p and 1080i actually need about the same bit rate.

    720p on a 1080 line screen is degraded compared with 720p on 720lines

    1080i or p is degraded on 720p screen

    Everything is degraded on 768 line (commonest HD screen).

    SD (576) is degraded (progressively less) on 720, 768 or 1080 line screens.

    HD should be 1152 line in Europe to give a significant improvement on 60" screens an ensure no degradation of SD.

    Instead we are going to be offered 720p because too many TV sets can't do 1080i properly and instead of the better compromise 1080 which does not degrade SD so much.

    1080 is derived from visible lines of old Analogue 1125 line for Japan (thus NTSC derived). VGA is of course progressive version of visible lines of 525i NTSC.

    The US & Japan have messed up PCs and now HDTV for us :(

    Anyway... there is nothing decent to watch anymore. When the format war for HD is over and penetration is 30%, I'll buy a HD projector and player for Cinematic titles. Till then I'll stick to previewing HD in the office and my 21" 1600x 1200 PC with Satellite Card. And buying regular DVDs for the telly,


  49. Adam Williamson

    bandwidth - Andrew and anonymous

    yep, you guys are quite right, sorry - I was thinking of the figure for SD digital, by mistake. Of course, that just makes the argument even stronger (ditching all the radio channels wouldn't give you anywhere near enough bandwidth for one HD channel).

    Those counting lines do need to remember the issue of interlacing; yes, 625 lines sounds close to 720, but the fact that it's interlaced effectively halves that. Combined with the wider aspect ratio of HD, 720p HD has rather more than twice as much detail as PAL SD.

  50. chew6acca

    Luddites ?

    I can't understand all the negative reaction here.

    HD is great -

    The BBC still does lots of things really well.

    I have a HD screen and would love more content - eg live sport.

    As a consumer I don't care how they do it.

  51. Timbo

    Hold the front page....!!

    Seems there WILL be HD on Freeview soon.....-ish....

    But you'll need a different FREEVIEW box... (surprise, surprise !!).

    More stuff here:

    Maybe someone from OfCom reads El Reg ????

  52. Matthew

    Techy resistance

    Interesting debate...

    Personally, I've followed the debate and decided that with all the various permutations surrounding HD (720 v 1080's flavours, early 'HE Ready' TVs not having the right connectors etc) that I don't care enough to chuck out good kit and risk buying the latest Betamax equivalent...

    I bought the best quality widescreen CRT I could find and Freeview receivers. I don't need a 50" screen and for a decent viewing angle, a flat-screen wouldn't work unless it's on an angle (which negates the benefit of a flat TV's depth).

    If I want HD content, I don't want a satellite dish and it's too rural for fast broadband (sometimes I get 900 kbps!),so Freeview will be the only viable option for me to get HD. For me, my (good quality) signal is noticeably better than SD regardless of the compression or out-of-date encoding.

    Why should I buy anything HD before my current hardware breaks?

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