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What is HD?
FAQ
FAQ
What is HD?
HD (high definition) is the latest in a long line of major improvements in television technology, which has moved from black-and-white analogue to widescreen colour digital over the last 50 years. HD gives you exceptionally clear, crisp pictures with vivid colours and up to five times more detail than standard definition.
What is BBC HD?
BBC HD is a free-to-air high definition channel available on satellite and cable. It features a wide range of programmes from across the other BBC channels. At the moment BBC HD broadcasts for nine hours a day between 4pm and 1am, with extended coverage for live events such as Wimbledon and Electric Proms.
How do I find out more about BBC One HD?
BBC One HD will simulcast a network version of the BBC One schedule and will show the majority of peak time programmes in HD. Almost every other programme will be upscaled. To find out more visit the BBC One HD page.
How does high definition TV work? What does it mean?
A high definition picture is clearer and sharper than current television because it contains more information in digital form. High definition TV has up to five times as many pixels in each picture as standard definition TV.
Why/when would I find high definition programming valuable?
High definition broadcasts offer a sharper, more detailed picture than standard definition broadcasts. The improvement over a standard definition picture is particularly noticeable on flat-panel displays (LCD and plasma).

Televisions can carry the 'HD Ready' logo when the display screen has enough pixels to be able to display a high definition picture properly. To qualify they must also be capable of displaying pictures with either 720 or 1080 horizontal lines. The logo also means they can be connected to an HD digital box through an HDMI (High Definition Media Interface) cable. Visit HD Ready to view a database of 'HD Ready' televisions.
I have an 'HD Ready' television. Does that mean I will automatically receive HD services when they start?
No. 'HD Ready' just means that the screen has sufficient resolution to display high definition pictures. You will still need the right kind of receiver, which will be included in the digital box from your HD service provider, whether satellite or cable
Why can't I watch all my favourite BBC programmes, such as EastEnders, in high definition?
Not every BBC programme is currently made in high definition, so they cannot be broadcast on BBC HD. The BBC is committed to high definition production and will gradually increase the number of programmes made in high definition.
Will BBC HD broadcasting affect my viewing if I don't buy HD equipment and an HD service?
Existing services will continue unchanged.
Do high definition programmes look better on an ordinary standard definition television?
Programmes made in HD, such as Antiques Roadshow or Nature's Great Events, can provide the best possible quality pictures on current equipment. Only a high definition television, high definition digital box and high definition broadcast used together provide high definition viewing.
Is BBC HD a pay service?
No, BBC programmes are funded by your licence fee. You do not have to pay extra to watch them in high definition, even if you are watching them on a subscription service. You will need a suitable digital box from your provider or retailer, and it is possible that some service providers will only offer this if you take a subscription service.
When will I be able to watch the BBC's high definition programmes on Freeview?
In April 2008 Ofcom announced plans to upgrade digital terrestrial television (Freeview) to allow for up to four new HD channels, including BBC HD. You can now watch BBC HD on Freeview in many areas across the UK. Please visit Freeview to find out if Freeview HD is available in your area. If you can receive Freeview HD and you already have an HD-ready TV, you will need a Freeview HD set-top box - these boxes are now available from electrical retailers. If you don't have an HD-ready TV, you can now get one with Freeview built in.
On which channel number can I find BBC HD?
BBC HD can be found on different channels depending on which service provider you use. Freesat: 109. Freeview: 54. Sky: 169. Virgin Media: 187.
BBC One HD can be found on these channels:
Freesat: 108. Freeview: 50. Sky: 143. Virgin Media: 108.
What is surround sound and will it be available on BBC HD?
Surround sound goes a step further than stereo to make a listener feel as if they are in the middle of the action by providing extra audio streams. Some BBC HD programmes, including The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency and Robin Hood, are available in digital surround sound if you have the right equipment, i.e. a multichannel surround sound or home cinema system. In future, many more high definition programmes will be available in digital surround sound.
Does BBC HD have interactive services?
Not at the moment. In time it is our aspiration to provide equivalent interactivity to that on standard definition TV.
Does BBC HD have access services such as subtitles, audio description and signing?
There are subtitles on most high definition programmes, and we have tested audio describing on Hustle, Heroes and How We Built Britain.
The availability of access services varies between satellite and cable providers but it is hoped that, in time, all HD digital boxes will be able to decode the subtitle and audio description services broadcast by the BBC.
As with standard definition, we will build up access services over time.
Does BBC HD broadcast in 1080i or 720p?
The BBC HD channel currently transmits programmes using the 1080i standard. High definition is still a developing technology, however, and the two different standards were developed to overcome different technical problems encountered in making and transmitting HD programmes. The BBC HD channel's commitment to the highest possible quality means that as the technology develops we will choose the standard that delivers the best possible pictures. As all 'HD Ready' equipment can handle both standards, this choice will not require any changes in home equipment.
Can I use an HD digital satellite box other than one from Sky or Freesat to receive BBC HD?
We can make no guarantees that particular boxes will work with the BBC's transmissions.
Consumers need to ask their retailer or supplier whether receivers are compatible before they buy.
To be compatible with the BBC's HD stream, a digital box must comply with the following:
  • It can be demonstrated to decode the BBC's MPEG-4 HD stream.
  • It decodes both DVB-S and DVB-S2 transmissions.
  • It can recognise both the current and future values of HD service type used in the UK and the rest of Europe.

Why can't I share Freeview HD programmes with my friends online?
The BBC only has limited distribution rights for many of the programmes we broadcast and we take measures to stop unauthorised sharing of programmes in order to protect the rights of programme contributors and other rights holders.
Freeview HD recorders include software that prevents copyrighted material from being shared illegally online . This is sometimes called digital rights management (DRM), copy protection or content management.

I have a Blu-ray recorder with Freeview. Why can I only make one copy of some BBC HD programmes?
The BBC only has limited distribution rights for many of the programmes we broadcast and we take measures to stop unauthorised duplication of programmes in order to protect the rights of programme contributors and other rights holders.
For certain programmes (such as films), viewers will only be able to make a single Blu-ray copy (or other removable copy) of a recording.

Why can't I get Freeview HD on Linux or Myth TV recorders?
The BBC only has limited distribution rights for many of the programmes we broadcast and we take measures to stop unauthorised sharing of programmes in order to protect the rights of programme contributors and other rights holders.
All Freeview HD recorders include software which prevents copying to the internet in order to stop copyrighted material from being shared illegally online. This is sometimes called digital rights management (DRM), copy protection or content management. Linux and Myth TV recorders are not required to include this software so if we supported these systems we couldn't honour our agreements with rights holders. We can't support any products which do not implement content management controls.

Is it possible to record Freeview HD programmes onto my PC?
Not yet, but this should be possible once receiver cards are available which are compatible with Freeview HD.
Microsoft's and Apple's recent operating systems include the content management controls which are required to record Freeview HD programmes without compromising our agreements with rights holders. Recent HD compatible computers would therefore record Freeview HD programmes if they have the appropriate software and hardware. Linux and Myth TV systems do not have to include such content management controls so we don't support these systems.

What's it like behind the scenes at BBC One HD?

Go behind the scenes of BBC One HD

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Danielle Nagler, Head of BBC HD and 3D, takes you behind the scenes of the new BBC One HD channel

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Related Links

BBC One HD
Find out all about the new channel.
Digital TV
What is digital TV?
freesat.co.uk
The subscription-free digital satellite TV service from the BBC and ITV.
freeview.co.uk
Find out if you can get the new Freeview HD service in your area.
hdready.org.uk
Check which TVs are 'HD Ready'.
sky.com/hd
Sky offers HD channels and a choice of on-demand high definition programmes.
virginmedia.com
Virgin Media offers HD channels and a choice of on-demand high definition programmes.
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