Viewer lobby persuades BBC to improve HD quality

The BBC has raised HD television bandwidth and quality following viewer group complaints
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The BBC HD Campaign group lobbied the public broadcaster to restore the high-definition channel quality.

The group represents viewered incensed at the August 2009 switch to lower quality video encoders which reduced the bandwidth of BBC HD down to 9.7Mbit/s from 16Mbit/s.

This shift also included a lowering of resolution from full 1920 x 1080 to 1440 x 1080 which lead to accusations that the service was little better than standard television. Further criticism was aimed at the BBC since it transmits full HD at 16Mb/s to continental Europe.

A meeting between BBC bosses and the BBC HD Campaign, at the BBC TV Centre in London, gave the viewer group the opportunity to meet Danielle Nagler, head of BBC HD, and Andy Quested the broadcaster’s principal technologist. The group had not been satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, however, claiming that comparison material had not been provided.

Yet six weeks later the BBC raised bandwidth, restored full HD resolution and made other technical changes such as incorporating Variable Bit Rate encoding and improving the systems for handling noise in the transmitted images.

“‘We are pleased to see that after nearly a year of campaigning, BBC HD has taken these measures and, as we expected all along, the results have been a significant improvement in picture quality,” said BBC HD Campaign member John Temperley.

BBC HD Campaign are clearly pleased with the improvements, as no doubt will many other BBC HD viewers but say questions remain as to why the BBC felt that it was appropriate to offer a service substantially inferior to commercial operators and even its own broadcast service outside of the UK.

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