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DTT and HDTV in France

by User Not Found | Feb 19, 2007

In sharp contrast to the UK, France has laid down new laws concerning the transition from analogue to digital terrestrial television. It is the first country in Europe to mandate digital tuners in TV sets. It also has one of the most ambitious migration schedules, given the present low penetration of digital TV; analogue switch-off will begin in 2008 and end in late 2011. France is also one of the first European countries to confirm that HD (high definition) channels will be available on the DTT platform. These will be licensed this year and could be on the air before the end of 2007. They are likely to be based on MPEG4 technology. France's traditional dirigiste approach to industrial technology policy making for once appears to be well-timed. The new broadcast laws seem at first sight to be in sharp contrast to the disarray besetting the UK's DTT platform, where commercial players are driving the introduction of new technologies while the regulator tries to make peace with warring factions. Ultimately it will make sense for all digital TV platforms around the world to move towards more advanced technologies, including codecs like MPEG4 and improvements like HD. But how each country moves in that direction is clearly going to vary enormously. Right now we suspect that industry players and consumers alike would rather have the relative certainty of the French market than the instability that seems to lie ahead in the UK. (Strategy Analytics clients will receive a more detailed assessment of recent developments in France shortly.)
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