Originally Posted by Distorted
I love the non-target aspect of the usual British Open with all its vagaries and imposing weather conditions. The finer-grain the picture the better, but as explained above by our British friend, government control of anything is another way of saying r-a-s-h-o-n-i-n-g (of HD service in this case) and lessoning of standards. Here we can evoke pressure with our viewership and patronization among a variety of providers of television content.
That's a slight distortion of the situation. The government doesn't control the BBC in the way you imply. The Royal Charter is a reasonably long-term (10 years normally) funding agreement that decides the level of the TV Licence Fee (not unique to the UK - many European countries and also Japan have a similar funding model) which the BBC currently receive (though soon may not receive all of - some of it is currently being used to subsidise digital receivers, and it appears that some of this money will now also be used to subsidise broadband in areas that the market won't provide)
If you look at Europe - the BBC is pretty much leading the way in HD production amongst the main terrestrial broadcasters - whether commercial or non-commercial...
However the UK is a much smaller country than the US - and our TV budgets have always been smaller. As a country we simply can't afford to do everything in HD at once - and the BBC has to balance spending on HD (watched by a small number) with spending on core services (watched by and listened to by a large number) We have only had HD services here since Summer 2006 (HD services mainly started in Europe with the World Cup 2006) - so aren't doing that badly after 3 years... (And we've had near-100% 16:9 Component SD production here for years - so the improvement isn't as radical as it was in the US where HD replaced composite 4:3 NTSC)
There, men with state power can (and do) come to your house to collect a licensing fee if you have the means to capture a signal whether you watch or not, so there is no imperative on nameless/faceless bureaucrats to provide what the public wants upon pain of economic death as in competitive systems.
No - in the UK the licence-fee is NOT collected at your house by men with state power - there is no doorstep collection system.
You purchase the licence at a number of locations (it was the Post Office for many years - but this has now changed to PayPoint), or as I do, you can pay by a direct debit bank transfer monthly. There are other methods in addition to this.
If you don't have the capability to watch live broadcasts - then you don't pay. (This was tested years ago by someone who only had a TV to watch VCR recordings and had no aerial/antenna that could receive a broadcast signal)
Also - if you don't think the people who run the BBC are competitive - you are in a strange alternative world. The transfer of programming executives between the BBC and the main commercial broadcasters (ITV, C4, Five and Sky) are frequent, as are the moves between the BBC production arm and independent production companies. (The current Director General of the BBC used to run Channel Four, the current Chief Executive of ITV used to be the Director General of the BBC. The current Controller of BBC One used to be the Director of Programmes at Five, and the current Controller of Sky One used to be the Controller of BBC Three.)
BBC One is the most watched TV station in the UK at the moment - closely competing with ITV1 for audience (though many in Government think that the BBC should NOT compete for audience with commercial broadcasters) It has recently had programmes go over a 60% share of the total viewing audience - and routinely has a number of popular programmes in the UK top 10 audience charts.
BBC HD generates more HD content than any other UK terrestrial broadcaster. ITV HD sometimes only has one or two HD shows A WEEK, and C4 originate relatively small amounts of HD (though are improving). Five has no HD outlet at the moment.
Virgin Media - the UK-wide cable platform - has just one HD channel... That's BBC HD.
Sky HD - the main Pay-TV broadcaster that is funded by a subscription - has the main HD satellite platform - however you will be paying more than 4 times the UK Licence fee to watch their HD Sport and Movie offerings - and other than Sport they don't originate a huge amount other than game shows and occasional dramas in HD. The bulk of their HD offerings are US imports.