BBC has updated its official statement relating to the commissioning of high-def programmes, and it’s good news for HD enthusiasts and HDTV owners. From April 2011 onwards, the organisation will be expecting all network programmes to be made in high definition which is the preferred and recognised delivery format for any new BBC network show. BBC explains that this is because the incremental cost of producing TV shows in HD over their SD counterparts has dropped over the last few years, making it rather insignificant when pitted against the superior picture quality of high-definition.
However, this does not necessarily mean that viewers can watch all BBC programmes in glorious high definition on their HD TVs come April 2011: most regional television shows lie outside the domain of “network programmes” specified in the statement, and so may still be filmed and shown in standard definition. Also, because HD versions consume up to 4 times as much bandwidth as SD content, some programmes will still be transmitted in standard-def given that BBC has more capacity for SD channels compared to HD.
BBC itself may make shooting certain TV programmes in HD a low priority if it thinks that high definition will not significantly improve the viewing experience of those particular programmes for the public, but they would still consider HD delivery for all shows. As the number of HD programmes delivered to BBC grows, viewers can expect more HD television shows to filter down the transmission pathway, and fill up the BBC HD and the soon-to-be arriving-in-September BBC1 HD (a high-def simulcast of the flagship BBC One) channels.
The official statement contains some guidance for budding producers wishing to make HD programmes for the BBC. Although 5.1 surround sound is recommended for a more immersive experience befitting high-definition viewing, BBC does accept HD shows delivered with stereo sound. In general, HD deliveries do not need to come with accompanying SD versions. A list of approved HD cameras is also provided for both in-house and independent productions. Producers can approach The Executive Producer of BBC HD or their respective BBC representatives for further support and guidance.