Originally Posted by mrvideo
IIRC, the BBC is the only U.K. OTA network that broadcasts in 5.1, and even then not all of its channels are 5.1. Even though the independents are still only stereo, there is overseas sales to think about.
The BBC, C4 and C5 all broadcast 5.1. We are 5.1 AAC on OTA and 5.1 AC3 on satellite. (I don't have cable). There may be an oddity where C4 or C5 is 2.0 only on one of the two platforms though (I have a niggling feeling they aren't all 5.1 on all platforms).
ITV is resolutely 2.0 only (AIUI they refuse to pay extra for their Playout facilities - and they do have a lot of regional variations to handle for both content and commercials)
HOWEVER - the BBC is the only one of the three to produce / commission content in 5.1 (though not huge amounts of it), as well as showing movies and acquired shows in 5.1 (quite a lot of Nordic stuff on BBC Four is 5.1). C4 and C5 only provide 5.1 audio on movies and acquired shows and don't commission any home-grown stuff with 5.1.
The BBC 5.1 output is now really limited to Doctor Who, The Proms, State Occasions (Royal Weddings etc.) and Sport (Olympics, Football etc.). The BBC also show the Eurovision Song Contest and Vienna New Years Day concert in 5.1 (these are both European Broadcasting Union 'Eurovision' productions) Sadly Strictly Come Dancing (which is the original Dancing with the Stars, stopped producing in 5.1 in 2017) Some drama IS 5.1 (ISTR Hard Sun and the Cormoran Strike series were) but a lot of high-end stuff is still 2.0. Also whilst a lot of the David Attenborough series get 5.1 BD and UHD BD releases, the original broadcasts are usually 2.0 (I guess the BBC only commission in 2.0, but BBC Studios - Worldwide as was - see the benefit of a 5.1 mix for sell-through and international sales, so pay extra to commission it?)
Sky and BT Sport commission a LOT of 5.1 sport coverage, and Sky produce home grown stuff in 5.1 too I think. (Both are doing Dolby Atmos for their UHD output)