BBC plans to launch more HD simulcast channels in future
02 Dec 10 -

Following the launch of an HD simulcast of BBC 1, the UK public broadcaster will launch an HD version of BBC 2 and, in the future, possibly also HD versions of its other free-to-air channels. Danielle Nagler, head of HD and 3D TV at the BBC, said that the BBC would launch additional HD channels as soon as it achieves sufficient critical mass of native HD programming to run a ‘true HD’ prime-time schedule.

“What’s important to use moving to simulcast is to have genuine HD content – it’s important that an HD channel carries a significant amount of HD content,” Nagler told Informa’s Digital TV Summit yesterday. “We have over half of the peak-time content in HD now on BBC 1, but we are not currently in that position with BBC 2 or the other channels. When we feel we can offer it we will launch – and I have no doubt that BBC 3 HD and BBC 4 HD will follow in due course.”

Nagler said the BBC would air over 2,000 hours of new HD programming this year, representing an increase of about a quarter on last year. She said that there had been “more positive comments” than negative ones about the quality of upconverted content on the BBC 1 HD channel, and that the broadcaster had made a significant effort to make sure quality standards were maintained.

Nagler said the launch of further HD channels would not be dependent on the ability of the Freeview platform (where the BBC is currently restricted to two channels) to support them. “There are possibilities around what can be one with Freeview that could allow the addition of further HD channels but it’s a matter for Freeview and Freeview shareholders,” she said. “It’s my view that over time we will need to develop HD versions of our core portfolio. If Freeview can’t take them we will have a difficult decision [to make] but we will have to offer those channels on the platforms that are capable of taking them.”