There was a test weekend where an entire Saturday evening of entertainment shows was letterboxed to 14:9 using a black mask and appropriate framing during production (quite a while before Digital TV started) as a test to see if viewers complained massively. (Noels House Party was one of the shows ISTR)
Some drama shot on Super 16 was telecined to 14:9-15:9 letterbox (whilst still being edited in the 4:3 domain) before digital TV launched, so some shallow letterboxing was beginning to be seen outside of movies.
BBC News 24 launched in full 16:9 production in N9
(though it wasn't really known as that then) in November 1997, and News 24 content shown on BBC One and BBC World was shown in 14:9 letterbox format. (I think Europe Direct launched from N9 before the official launch of News 24, as the show launched on BBC World prior to News 24 launching)
However the widespread use of 14:9 letter boxing (aka 14L12) started when shows started being made and delivered in 16:9 FHA (full height anamorphic - aka 16F16) This started when the BBC formally launched their digital platforms in approx November 1998 (when News 24 also moved to N8
If a show was made in 16:9 widescreen for broadcast in widescreen on BBC One Digital or BBC Two Digital, then it had to be converted to 4:3 format for broadcast on analogue outlets. 14:9 letterbox (aka 14L12) was the most common intermediate ratio used (and the BBC commissioned most shows to be 14:9 safe), however 16:9 sport was 4:3 safe and broadcast as 12F12 (i.e. full-screen centre-cut-out). It was also possible for movies to go out 16L12 (i.e. 16:9 deep letterbox), but initially it wasn't unusual for BBC One analogue and BBC One digital to split and show different copies of the movie on each outlet (allowing for a 4:3 pan-and-scan rather than permanent centre-cut-out from 16:9 to be broadcast on analogue) This facility stopped when (or before) the analogue NTA areas closed I believe, and BBC One analogue became a permanent ARC
-ed output of BBC One digital from the DTA (albeit with dynamically driven ARCs).
Last edited by noggin on 10 September 2019 8:15am