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December 4, 2009

BBC satellite HD quality causes controversy

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by Janet Harris

BBC satellite HD quality causes controversy
BBC HD introduced new encoders in August, with a lower bitrate of 9.7Mbs compared with 16Mbs previously.

This led to complaints from satellite viewers about the picture quality, so the broadcaster is now evaluating technical demonstrations of the service.

At the technical launch of Freeview HD, Graham Plumb, the BBC’s acting controller of distribution, said that people should not focus on the lower bitrate, as it is misleading to equate bitrate with quality.

The codec installed in August is actually an improvement on the earlier codec, and although the bitrate is lower, it has been shown in tests that it gives at the same, and maybe an even better level of quality.

Emma Scott, the managing director of Freesat, which offers BBC HD, has spoken out to support the BBC’s view and says that Freesat has no worries about picture quality.

A technical problem that did cause issues with picture quality immediately after the new codec was installed has been resolved.

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