Should BBC licence fee support 4K production?

Traditionally the BBC has lead the way in probing the boundaries of new technology in UK broadcasting. Examples include: Teletext (Ceefax), It has shown what the new technology is capable of and produced compelling demonstrations which then encouraged consumers to go forth and purchase new devices to enjoy the benefits in their home.

And yet the the BBC’s head of technology for HD and Ultra-HD (Andy Quested) has said that the BBC cannot use the licence fee to subsidise the higher costs of producing content for new 4K services. As the BBC pushes towards the more personal service model its new Director General has described, there are presumably plenty of other calls on the licence fee cash.

But should the BBC not produce its flagship programmes in the best format available - with a view to enhancing the value of its archive? The key criterion seems to be the number of viewers who can benefit at the current time. Certainly the penetration of 4K/UDTV television receivers is very low and it is not clear how quickly the prices of the new sets might fall - to enable acceleration of take-up. However even consumers who can afford the sets are only likely to want to purchase them if the content choice is attractive enough. For the present the BBC will make content for these 'super' formats, but will using funding other than the licence fee.

More details in this article.