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Review: Fewer staff at Glasto and more 4K for the BBC

Out of the mud and in to production centres
IN REVIEW | The BBC's recently appointed Chief Technology Officer has set out his stall, listing priorities for the newly rebranded BBC Engineering department looking towards a internet driven future and more content in 4K/UHD.

Matthew Postgate promised that his department would continue to do more with less and would look at shorter contracts "to be more flexible, get quicker access to new technology as it emerges, and ensure we get the best possible value for licence fee payers", thus drawing a line on recent disastrous projects such as the doomed Digital Media Initiative which cost licence fee payers almost £100 million under previous management.

Highlighting developments within BBC R&D, Mr Postgate said that ground-breaking technology could cut the need for a full scale outside broadcast operation at events such as Glastonbury, with the BBC potentially needing just one production vehicle, linked via internet to production bases.

In an interview with the FT, he also confirmed that the BBC was likely to be broadcasting 4K/UHD content as standard in 2016. This follows UHD tests last summer on digital terrestrial TV in three locations and online.

With the Daily Mail potentially on the verge of losing its annual story about how many BBC staff go to Glastonbury, the newspaper claimed on the basis of Mr Postgate's plans that Poldark and other hit BBC shows would go 'internet first', leading the Chief Technology Officer to distance himself from any plans within other parts of the BBC to make content and programmes online only.

Writing on his blog page, he said:
At BBC Engineering, when we talk about taking advantage of internet technologies or being ‘internet first’ we aren’t talking about the BBC doing more with online content or only putting content and programmes online. My role is to make sure that the BBC’s technologies that underpin everything we do – from our newsroom infrastructure and new in-the-field production and editing tools, to how we keep the BBC on air and online – are set up in the best possible way, and take advantage of new internet-based technologies. This is what will give the organisation the flexibility it will need to evolve to meet people’s expectations now and in the future.

Update: 4k or UHD TV is more likely to be available on satellite and internet based platforms, as there is a short supply of sufficient capacity on Freeview to permit terrestrial transmission.


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