The BBC Trust has launched a four-week public consultation into the BBC Executive’s proposals for a high definition television channel. It follows last week’s publication of the public value assessment (PVA) carried out by the BBC Trust Unit and a market impact assessment (MIA) conducted by Ofcom.
The Trust agreed that the proposals would have very little adverse impact on the market and has provisionally approved the launch subject to a number of conditions. Launching the consultation, Diane Coyle, BBC Trustee and Chair of the Public Value Test Steering Group, said the Trust was particularly interested in views on the availability of BBC HD on the Freeview DTT platform. “Would licence fee payers prefer the BBC to launch a four-hour service immediately, before a nine-hour service is possible because of spectrum capacity, even if that means having to buy two set-top boxes within a very short period of time,” she asked?
In addition to the existing satellite and cable carriage for the current test channel the BBC is exploring the possibility of using overnight DTT capacity currently used in daytime by BBC Parliament, BBC Four and the BBCi streams. It is hoping to receive gifted capacity after a spectrum release from Ofcom created as part of the digital dividend.
The Trust has cautioned the BBC Executive that the presence of an HD feed should not distort the amount paid for broadcast rights on particular programmes. There is also a warning that the BBC should only upgrade the HD transmission standard once the majority of consumers have upgraded their own equipment.
It has also asked the corporation to keep in touch with IPTV operators as to when carriage over such services might also become possible.