Trust OKs BBC HD

BBC Trust gave its qualified support to plans for the corporation to begin broadcasting in high definition.Until the switchover in 2012, there is not be enough bandwidth on the Freeview platform for putting out HD during the day, so the BBC plans four hours of HD on Freeview between 2am and 6am. It is aimed at people who want to record the best of the corporation’s output in HD. But to do even that, broadcast of BBC Parliament, BBC4 and three of the small BBCi channels on Freeview will have to be suspended to make room for HD.

BBC HD will be available for nine hours a day on cable and satellite platforms. The Trust also said it wanted viewers’ opinions on whether it should go ahead with the late-night Freeview option because it would mean that people would have to upgrade their set-top boxes once to do that and then again after the digital switchover because of changing technical standards. The Trust said: “Our provisional conclusions are now open to public consultation and we would like to hear from as many members of the public and stakeholders as possible before reaching our final decision. We are particularly interested in the public’s view about the options for an HD channel on Freeview. Would licence fee payers prefer the BBC to launch a four-hour service immediately, before a nine-hour service is possible because of spectrum capacity, even if that means having to buy two set-top boxes within a very short period of time?”

Looking to IPTV, the trust also approved distributing the HD channel over set-top box IPTV services and the desktop internet, even though broadband speeds are currently insufficient. The trust ordered the BBC to meet with IPTV operators to “gauge feasibility and to ensure that the BBC does not over-burden their capacity before they are ready to accommodate HD”.

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