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BBC expect 4K to raise the bar for quality broadcasting

At the Digital TV World Summit, London

In one of the surefire highlights of this years Digital TV World Summit, Mark Harrison, Controller of Production at the BBC, placed a fascinating emphasis on what the broadcaster expects the effects of 4K to be in the coming years – and it’s good news for viewers.

In recent years, Harrison explained, the BBC has seen a radical reversal in what had appeared to be a general decline in production quality engendered by a “self-shooting revolution” which apparently saw the BBC itself – that bastion high-quality broadcasting – toy with following the tendency towards a more “rougher edged approach.”

The dual impact of both iPlayer and HD, however, led the BBC to re-evaluate its relationship towards future broadcasting, the former proving the huge appetite people had for its programming (albeit in a different fashion), and the latter re-firing the desire for all-round quality in producers.

“What’s significant about HD was that producers loved the process of actually making in HD, they loved the way it looked. If you’re making what you make in a way that looks so much better, it shows if your presenters are a bit rubbish, your sets are a bit rubbish, and your scriptwriting is a bit rubbish.”

HD, Harrison stressed, introduced a sea change “in the overall quality of programme making. Television just got better.”

As such, Harrison contested that 4K, which the BBC does anticipate playing a large role in home entertainment in the coming years, “will see the overall quality of the work taking a step up.”

In other words, its significance will be not merely visual, but in the extra dose of quality that will act as a creative incentive in other aspects of programme making.

“Television,” Harrison explained, expounding an ethos that has certainly ensured incredible enduring success for the BBC, “is a discipline and not a device. Tens of millions of viewers are attracted by the craft of television making, not the device it’s shown on.”

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to read Mark’s brilliant interview with IP&TV News from last month on the BBC, 4K, and more.

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