The BBC is planning a major consumer campaign in the spring in an effort to counter a perceived confusion about HD amongst the British public.

In April and May 2008 the corporation will look to raise awareness of BBC HD's quality and help retailers to educate consumers about what they need to do in order to get HD services.

According to Seetha Kumar, the head of HD for the BBC, 89% of the public are aware of HDTV. But less than 50% know they need to get an HD box and subscription.

“There is lots of consumer confusion,” she told delegates at Broadcast Live and Video Forum. “It has been really frustrating. There are lots of people [out there] who are disappointed that they are not getting HD on DTT. [The campaign] will create an awareness of BBC HD's high quality. We want to entice the viewer.”

The BBC's ongoing HD strategy involves continued simulcasts of HD and SD shows, themed HD nights and a plan to start broadcasting the BBC HD channel from 19:00. It currently starts at 20:00.

Kumar said that retailers will also have to help educate the consumer but they must be wary of not killing the excitement that currently surrounds HD.

Other key points

  • Kumar is pushing hard for the availability of free-to-air HD via Freesat (which launches this year) and Freeview as this will drive high definition take-up. Current HD services are only available on satellite and cable.

  • She also hopes to have HD content available online. “We want to make HD available on The first phase will be [making it available for] download.”

  • Discussing why the BBC is so keen to expand and develop its HD services Kumar said: “We don't have a choice. The consumer can shoot HD on their camcorder. 8.5 million HD ready sets have been sold in the UK. It's survival.”

  • As far as production is concerned, one area of importance for the BBC will be pinpointing children's shows that can make the transition from SD or those that will work well in HD.

  • The BBC's HD mission is to Increase the amount of programming it does; Reduce the cost of HD production; Have a clear route map to free-to-air HD; Clarify consumer confusion

Seetha Kumar was speaking at Broadcast Live and Video Forum today.