Andy Quested, Head of Technology, BBC HD & UHDTV, has told 3D Focus that the BBC is only producing Ultra HD programmes outside the licence fee.
Although the cost of the displays is falling, the BBC is not future proofing programming due to the way it is funded.
Quested said: “Only programmes funded outside the licence fee are being produced in UHD. We cannot use licence fee money for new services that licence fee payers cannot access and even then we usually need to go through the BBC Trust procedures which may include a public value test.”
The BBC recently revealed its new look iPlayer which will support Ultra HD streaming. Ultra HD can refer to 4K UHD (2160p) and 8K UHD (4320p) but the former will be rolled out first, as 4K TVs start to appear on the market.
Quested, who co-heads the UK UHD forum with Sky’s chief engineer, broadcast strategy Chris Johns, has told 3D Focus that UHD on the BBC iPlayer would be technically possible if there are receivers and decoders available.
It is fair to say that there was enough backlash on the forums about the BBC spending money on 3D programming, with many complaining it was a waste of money when there were so few 3DTVs in the homes. However, 3D TV was a delivered over existing channels, where as 4K UHD is a whole different ball game.
Quested also confirmed that the HEVC codec will be used to distribute Ultra HD using the ITU-R BT.2020 and several (almost ready to publish) SMPTE standards.
BSkyB, the BBC and Sony have been experimenting with 4K UHD sports production. SES have managed to squeeze a 3840 × 2160 signal into 20Mbps and as a result are planning to launch a 24/7 test channel.
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