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I've got an HD TV ... why can't we have high definition channels in place of the

Freeview HD has them on 101, 102, 103 and 104. Sky has them on 141, 142, 178 and 230. On Freesat they are 108, 109, 119 and 126. Wouldn't it make sense for the public service channels to be in the "normal" place in the channel number list - why do they have to be on some seemingly random channel number?

Freeview HD has them on 101, 102, 103 and 104.  Sky has them on
published on UK Free TV

They are the most watched TV channels in the UK, but even after all the investment in recording and producing most of their content in lovely high definition, and

Digital UK (in this Consultation on proposals for the Freeview HD genre and on amendments to Digital UKs LCN Policy document) asked 466 household WITH Freeview HD

"How often do you watch an HD channel rather than its SD version?"

16% said "I always watch the HD version and never watch the Standard version"

13% said "I usually watch the HD Version and occasionally watch the Standard version"

30%, I occasionally watch the HD Version but usually watch Standard definition

27%, I always watch the Standard version and never watch the HD version

and 14% Don't know.

Then asked "Why do you watch SD channels rather than the HD version?"

Among the answer were

18% Laziness/just what I have always watched/habit

16% Don't have HD/can't receive HD

8% Happy with standard tv/the quality of picture

"How do you usually find the HD channel that you watch?"

37% uses the on-screen guide

28% scroll though the entertaiment channels

15% know the channel number and type it in

Which is then followed up by asking where BBC One HD is - with 69% not knowing.

Then asked where they would like to find the channels, the results were as shown:

With 30% saying they would like them on channels 1, 2, 3 and 4. 42% had no preference and 25% like them on 101, 102, 103 and 104.

Another recent report, An Analysis of the Audience Impact of Page One EPG Prominence: A Report for Ofcom shows rather well the effect on TV channels on not being easy to find at the top of the EPG:

The loss of two-thirds of the PICK TV audience when the channel moved down 41 places on the Sky EPG suggests that the Public Service channels need to place their HD services where they can be found - as replacements for the SD ones.

Technical difficulties

The Sky EPG has a feature that swaps HD channels for SD ones. But this is easy for British Sky Broadcasting - all their channels are UK-wide. One SD stream (that's the audio and video) is swapped for one HD stream.

However, all of the public service channels have regional versions.

Clearly are the three Channel 3 companies ITV plc, STV and UTV.

However, ITV still operates regional news services (for details see ITV PROPOSALS FOR NATIONS AND REGIONS NEWS FOR A NEWCHANNEL 3 PSB LICENCE.

STV also slits into four regions (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen) for news provision.

For the BBC, BBC TWO is operated with "opt outs" in what the BBC calls "the Nations": Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

And for BBC One there are 14 English regions plus Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In "the Nations", BBC One is now provided on HD satellite and Freeview HD. BBC One has quite a lot of scheudling changes from the London service in the Nations, but just regional news in England.

Channel 4 is a national channel for scheduling purposes, but sells adverts in six regions.

Channel 5 has no local programming, but five advert regions.

It seems that it's just not possible - because of the time it takes tuning between different satellite transponders - to just redirect the HD channel to an SD channel during the news (or adverts).

This means, the only way that the public service channels could get to the 101, 102, 103 and 104 slots on the satellite services would be to duplicate ALL of their regions in high definition on satellite.

Which is very expensive, and something that "austerity Britain" can't afford.

Is there another way?

Perhaps there is another way. It wouldn't be high defintion, but it could, perhaps, be done.

All it would take is some MHEG5 software (for Freesat) and a bit of open-TV tweaking for Sky+HD boxes.

What you do is:

Create just one more full HD resolution BBC One England stream on the Astra satellites.

When the regional news is shown, use some standard technology to mix together, eight at a time, the fifteen regional news shows.

They each would only be at 480x540 resolutions (rather than SD's normal 720x576).

Then use the MHEG5 or Open TV software to stretch the service back into place.

And what of recording? Easy - just redirect the recording to the appropriate SD stream.

Not HD, not ideal, but a good cut-price way to get BBC ONE HD to the top of the EPG.

If there was such a "software solution" then it could be used for other channels too.

What do you think?

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Monday, 17 June 2013
Steve Lyons
10:18 PM

I only switch to SD to watch my local news (Look North - South and West Yorks), and to use the red button on BBC. So when will I be able to do that on HD?

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Steve Lyons's 2 posts GB flag
Dave Lindsay

10:21 PM

Steve Lyons: When everyone else can which is when the BBC Red Button data is carried on both the standard definition multiplex (PSB1) and the high definition one (PSB3) at the same time.

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Dave Lindsay's 5,724 posts GB flag

10:41 PM

SSteve Lyons: I think that you might expect the "connected red button" services to being an fuller text service to internet connected Freeview HD equipment at some point in the future.

There's some detail of the service at BBC - Blogs - Internet blog - Building Connected Red Button .

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Briantist's 38,908 posts GB flag

11:39 PM

First thing I did when I got a Freeview HD TV was to edit the channel list to put them in the right order (with BBC2 Scotland at 999 in case there's differences) - pain in the arse if you retune though as you have to do it all again!

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Michael's 358 posts GB flag
Michael's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Tuesday, 18 June 2013

9:31 AM

As the Sky HD box up-scales to almost full HD quality anyway, there isn't much point in switching to the proper HD channels.

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Ian's 497 posts GB flag
Ian's: mapI's Freeview map terrainI's terrain plot wavesI's frequency data I's Freeview Detailed Coverage
John Robinson

6:42 PM

Re the technical question - if it takes a while to switch transponders, why don't they carry both the national HD and local SDs on the same transponder?

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John Robinson's 43 posts GB flag
John's: mapJ's Freeview map terrainJ's terrain plot wavesJ's frequency data J's Freeview Detailed Coverage

7:20 PM

John Robinson: they need DVB-S2 for HD but you can't use it for SD because of backwards compatibility.

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Briantist's 38,908 posts GB flag
Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Amanda, Brighton
10:08 AM

The HD channels are not as good as SD for subtitles (e.g. HD has smaller text & suffers drop-outs & noticably worse time lags). This is the main reason why our household sticks with HD.

But I think all channel numbers should be uniform across all platforms (SD, HD, Freeview, Freesat, Sky & Virgin).

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Amanda, Brighton's 6 posts GB flag
Amanda, Brighton
10:10 AM

Sorry CORRECTION: "This is the main reason why our household sticks with *** SD".

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Amanda, Brighton's 6 posts GB flag
John Martin

3:31 PM

I have a HD tv and still watch most programs on normal. I occasionally look at hd option and think not much better so switch back. Hopefully whenever we get super hd tvs down the road there will be a great difference between them both

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John Martin's 103 posts GB flag
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