BBC One HD regions: "Creative Solutions" to be deployed


UPDATE | The BBC says it's working on "creative solutions" to bring regional HD services to viewers.

Viewers in England currently see the red screen pictured above during regional opt-outs.

In a statement released by the BBC to its viewer feedback programme Points of View, the broadcaster indicated that a lack of funding for the HD roll-out was forcing them to seek "creative solutions".

Since 2013, no further localised HD versions of BBC channels have been launched, with just one version of BBC One HD covering all of the English regions and Channel Islands. Meanwhile the localised versions of BBC Two in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also not made the jump to HD.

With reference to the English regions, the statement to Points of View said: "The problems remain that of money. There are 15 regional versions of BBC One across England and the Channel Islands. Most of those 15 BBC Ones originate from regional studios that are not yet fully HD and upgrading regional news output is a priority for investment.

"To then take 15 BBC Ones to air in both HD and SD on all platforms would cost the equivalent of a third of the annual editorial budget for regional TV bulletins. So we have to balance our plans with the best interest of the license (sic) fee payer and try to find creative solutions. We are confident we can find a way..."

It's been over two years since the BBC last issued an update on the matter of BBC HD regions. In 2015, BBC Distribution Director Kieran Clifton indicated that - at the point of funding being approved - the BBC would be implementing roll-out of HD regions in 2017, following the start of the new BBC Charter period in a process that was to take 12-24 months.

Details of the BBC's "creative solution" have not been made public, although hidden satellite data transmitted on one of the BBC's satellite transponders since the end of June indicates a possible configuration with BBC One London HD sharing bandwidth with several SD regions.  BBC London News and BBC North West Today/Tonight are already HD ready - with BBC London News available in HD via the BBC News Channel during Breakfast's 6:27 - 7:57am local bulletins.

In a non-broadcast portion of the statement posted to the Points of View website, the BBC added: "In a world where two thirds of homes have their main TV connected to the internet, we could look to the internet to provide local content in HD. Alternatively we might find a way for audiences to move more conveniently between HD and SD. We will address this problem one way or the other, but we don’t want to take money away from other BBC services if we can possibly avoid it."

Points of View featured the BBC One HD region issue following a complaint from a disgruntled viewer from Stockport, who commented that the red screen shown during regional news opt-outs on BBC One had been saying the regional news wasn't  "yet" available on BBC One HD for years with no sign of any change.

Symbolising how slow the progress of BBC One HD regions has been, the programme featured a flashback to an interview with former BBC Distribution Director Alix Pryde. The interview saw Alix Pryde commenting on the completion of the last expansion of localised HD output - the launch of BBC One HD channels for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales (BBC One Scotland HD & Wales HD launched in January 2013, dating the interview to 2013, and not 2012 as indicated by the programme). As part of the original interview, it was said that proposals to deal with the English regions in HD were being submitted to the BBC Trust early the following year (which would have been 2014). a516digital reported on that very interview as part of an article about Alix Pryde's blog post back in November 2013.

For viewers wanting an end to the red screen during regional news on BBC One HD, the wait goes on.



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