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BBC HD bitrate - BBC reply to complaint

Discussion in 'Sky Forum' started by fredsie, Apr 17, 2008.

  1. fredsie

    fredsie Member

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    I recently complained to the BBC about the decline in PQ in their HD output and just received the following depressing, if surprisingly frank, reply:

    Thank you for contacting us regarding the picture quality on BBC HD and in particular, "Hotel Babylon".

    High definition transmission in Europe uses very new technology that is constantly evolving and improving.

    BBC Research continuously monitors the quality of the images and works with manufacturers to improve the picture quality and also help reduce the unsustainably high bit rates used at the start of the trial. Last June, a new version of the transmission software was implemented that not only improved the picture quality but allowed us to make the first of several bit rate reductions that were required of us due to the limited available spectrum. The timing was chosen to allow us to compare the quality of the new version against the quality of a known event from the previous year.
    We monitored audience response to the change and found the quality was seen to give a noticeable improvement to a wide range of programme genres from the very high demands of live sports coverage, to capturing subtle changes required by drama.

    Work with the manufacturers is continuing and we hope to implement more improvements to quality and reduce the still-high bit rates in future, without reducing the high quality of the pictures.

    BBC HD takes picture quality very seriously. From the start of our HD transmissions, setting very high standards has been of the utmost importance to us and we have even refused to broadcast programmes that do not meet our criteria.

    Kind regards,

    BBC HD


    Comments?
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  2. mossym

    mossym Active Member

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    i can't see how they can say it is an improvement. from the vast majority here it is definitely a noticeable degredation. they could at least have said the y changed the software with no ill effects, but to claim an improvement is ludicrous
  3. mattclarkie

    mattclarkie Active Member

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    I love the bit where they say we aim to reduce the "Still Hight Bit-rates", so it is going to get worse:eek:.



    I for one will be boycotting BBC HD, unless they are showing something I want to watch.:rotfl:


    The issue is that Heroes is about to start, and if the quality of that is not up to scratch I will be complaining. Can I ask the address you sent your complaint.
  4. fredsie

    fredsie Member

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    Agreed. I think what they are trying to claim is that there is an average improvement across a range of different types of programme with different bit-rate needs. But HD is all about the top end, not the average.

    And what's all this about the "unsustainable" level of bit rates?
  5. fredsie

    fredsie Member

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    I just filled in the the form for feedback on the BBC website:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/

    Make sure you classify your message as a complaint rather than a comment.
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  6. kevmarshall

    kevmarshall Member

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    There has definitely been a reduction in BBC HD picture quality but I wouldn't use Heros as any sort of yardstick as it appeared to have been produced with a grainy effect on the first series anyway..........arty farty or what?
  7. Shaun666

    Shaun666 Member

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    So basically what the Beeb are saying is "We used very high bit rates at the start so that it looked great and enticed people into buying HD tv's but now that more and more people have got them we don't need to worry so much about PQ any more"
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  8. tvdavid

    tvdavid Member

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    Its got worse on my 42in TV.
    Also the preview does not look as good.
  9. mattclarkie

    mattclarkie Active Member

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    BSG is grainy, but there is a difference between grain and bad PQ, I notice when BSG has good PQ, and where Sky have ruined it due to low bit-rates.

    Sadly I only watched Season 1 of Heroes in SD from Sci-Fi, so I can't compare how it looked last time.
  10. TaylorWJ

    TaylorWJ Member

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    BBC HD picture quality has become very variable. When I complain they respond, but say the HD channel bit-rate has been reduced from the maximum used during the trial, but does not change now live.

    They say Sky are responsible for the transmission, but they monitor the received signals and have not identified any problems.

    I have complained that the PQ is significantly worse when they are using the red button to broadcast additional programs. BBC say this is not technically possible!

    It seems the BBC does not have the infrastructure nor transmission capacity (from sky) to sustain its high quality HD service, so has compromised by the use of excessive compression throughout their HD infrastructure. They can still provide a very good product, but have to pull out all the stops (I assume by using the best they have and allocate technicians who know what they are doing).

    Compression used must depend on the program content. Video with lots of movement must be well managed. Sure HD is a significant improvement to SD, but I miss the HD quality (picture and 5.1 sound) of the trials. Sky show what can be achieved, but they too have to compromise. It is such a shame.

    Users of the BBC's HD service are only a small percentage of licence holders. Only a few of us will take the time to complain. At least they respond to the complaints.

    I would like some of the BBC's HD Engineering team to comment on what they think of the service and what they are trying to do to make the Management aware of what damage the BBC are doing to digital TV in the UK.
  11. mattclarkie

    mattclarkie Active Member

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    My complaint
  12. biggles1958

    biggles1958 Member

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    thats comment makes no sense to me:confused:

    what do the BBC gain by getting people to buy HD tv's?

    the licence fee is the same for a 12" portable as a 60" HD plasma?
  13. penna

    penna Member

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    I have not noticed any difference myself. However I was not aware of any bitrate change; it's amazing how psychology can work - making people see things that they are looking for once they have heard that there was a reduction in bitrate.. ;)

    People do need to realise that bitrates will drop as better encoders are introduced (I note that there has been a big discussion over Sky introducing new encoder at a lower bitrate for Premier HD, and from what I can tell some people are claiming a drop in quality whilst some are claiming no change).

    Of course, this doesn't excuse something like the quality of the England match the other week - that was not up to scratch!
  14. flushingmeadows

    flushingmeadows Member

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    What the BBC benefited from (as evidenced on this forum for the past 12 months) was a surge of BBC HD support, because the initial broadcasts were stunning (no other word for it, they were!), and this surge of support prompted lots of positive feedback to the BBC and many of us participated in the public opinion survey that was undertook before the channel got the permanent go ahead, with everyone fully supporting it. So, at that time Mr BBC HD was a hero.

    Now that the channel has been given approval and is no longer a trial, they can trim back the transmission quality for us UK viewers but they are able to still produce in HD and sell the HD versions on through BBC Worldwide, where all the big $'s are for them.

    My comments are my own thoughts and I cannot prove that this is their strategy, but, if I was a betting man...

    From a commercial perspective, it's quite a smart strategy - they've managed to work the Licence Fee system to their favour to release extra production budgets, but from a consumer experience perspective, it stinks!

    Bring back the trial! :D
  15. kevmarshall

    kevmarshall Member

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    The FA Cup semi-final was little better than SD quality :suicide:
  16. mossym

    mossym Active Member

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    i noticed how bad the picture was looking before i knew of any bitrate drop. it's pretty obvious from the picture though that bbc's hd is not up to scratch, whatever bitrate they are running at.
  17. mjn

    mjn Active Member

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    Must be why there is nothing worth watching on BBC HD then!

    The latest Tiger program and Life in Cold Blood were both recorded in HD, but only shown in SD. :suicide:
  18. fredsie

    fredsie Member

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    Me too. I don't care what the bitrate is; I'm only interested in the end product which is the PQ. If they can maintain quality with low data rates, then great, more bandwidth available for more content. But the obvious deterioration in resolution makes it clear they can't.
  19. Deepus

    Deepus Member

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    I've only had HD for a few months now, but the quality of picture on BBCHD has worsened considerably. It used to be my first port of call to showcase HD to the non-HD believers, but now I don't bother! As others have posted, there will be no point in paying extra for HD soon, as PQ will be worse than SD.:mad:

    Time to add my name to the list of complaints to the Beeb....
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  20. CaffeineJunkie

    CaffeineJunkie Member

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    I'm ever so slightly confused. What extra are you paying for BBC HD?

    Don't get me wrong. I've been appalled by some of the quality of BBC HD recently (Torchwood was especially bad compared to series 1) and they have to do something about it, but this has nothing to do with what you may pay a HD subscription for.
  21. Deepus

    Deepus Member

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    Point taken regarding BBCHD.:cool:

    I was referring to the HD subscription paid to Sky, which as we all know is also beginning to suffer with poor PQ - not for this thread though!:devil:
  22. fredsie

    fredsie Member

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    That's almost exactly what I said to them in my complaint.
  23. geoyou

    geoyou Member

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    I wonder if the issue we have is that there is no legal minimum bit rate set out in our t&cs with SKY. Perhaps there should be.

    If there were then broadcast quality would not be allowed to fall below this minimum..:rolleyes:.if this is the trend for the future... then pretty soon we will all be cancelling out SKY HD subs.

    RUSH HD looks great now... but how long before the standard falls to the level of poopanta sports or some of the broadcasts on the History Channel?
  24. Jaycee Dove

    Jaycee Dove Member

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    how do we know that Sky PQ is suffering?

    I have not noticed this.

    The bit rates on channels like Sky One and Sky Sports are at the level they have been since Sky upped the rates FROM the levels that the BBC have now put theirs down to!

    This in itself says it all because Sky were forced to up their bit rates after complaints from early HD adopters about poor PQ for the £10 sub. Sky themselves agreed it was not good enough, hence they juggled transponders to up the rates.

    So if viewers noticed the bit rates when Sky used them it is not psychological that they have noticed the drop in quality when the BBC cut them to such lower levels.

    Sky have done something to the encoders to cut bit rates so as to add the recent new movie and new sport channels but the PQ on the golf on the lower bit rate/supposedly better encoded channel 450 seems no worse than the ones with higher bit rates to me. Not tried the movie channel as yet. So far as I knew the older channels are at the same sort of bit rates as before, are they not? Or has this now changed?
  25. Starburst

    Starburst Active Member

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    SKY1HD runs at around 19mbps, if that's low then everyone might as well pack up and go home:)
  26. mattclarkie

    mattclarkie Active Member

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    Well when I pause it there are distinct blocks on screen, which are sometimes even visible during playback. This implies to me that the image is being starved of detail resulting in large blocks with no detail.


    I am not talking about the black/green blocks, but rather heavy pixelation of the image. I highly doubt that Sky One HD is that high, and if it is then something is going wrong before broadcast.

    Similar thing used to happen with Studio 60 on More4, there was absolutely no detail on the broadcast.
  27. Starburst

    Starburst Active Member

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    Well I didn't see any and as I said in the BSG thread that perhaps has a lot more to do with the capabilities and settings of the individuals TV's than any source or broadcast issue.
    I can clearly see compression issues on Freeview channels on the CRT but if drop the picture settings a few notices the blocking can be hidden quite effectively but the side effect is a picture so dark it's unwatchable.

    SKY1HD is that high, sorry to disappoint but I can see the figures myself when watching the channel on my PC or if you don't have that ability Oliver provides them for anyone to see here.
    The recent hysteria over the new SKY encoders used on one transponder (at this time) has coloured many peoples perceptions.


    As for Studio60 perhaps a poor NTSC to PAL conversion (shouldn't be given HD to PAL is pretty much the norm these days), more likely the source material is softened before broadcast to remove the blocking thanks to a pitiful bitrate and low resolution.
  28. suffolktoon

    suffolktoon New Member

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    There is a simple solution to the bandwidth problem. Get rid of the 90% ***** that is occupying the spectrum.
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  29. JH4

    JH4 Member

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    Good grief, High Definition D-VHS machines run at 28Mb/s, uncompressed. Bring back D-Theatre I say !
    (Sorry, a bit off topic I know, but surely there is bags of spare satellite capacity up there, to accomodate high bit rates, or am I being naive.)
    I probably am...
  30. Poissony

    Poissony Member

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    What good would that do? You can have a minimum bit rate of 20Mb/s, that doesn't guarantee you a good quality picture. How well it's been encoded is just as much of a factor.

    Hardly fair comparing broadcast data rates and those found on physical media is it? Chalk and cheese and all that. Surely you can see why broadcasters aren't throwing more bandwidth at any perceived problem? It costs more money. Far better to find more efficient coding. Even if there is spare satellite capacity, will there be sufficient terrestial capacity to match this when BBCHD is broadcast on freeview? What about cable?

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