French prepare to extend terrestrial HD
October 4, 2012 09.40 Europe/London By Julian Clover

The launch of six new HD channels on the French terrestrial system is to be accompanied by a new law, designed to ensure all receivers sold are capable of receiving the HD format.

The six channels, HD1, l’Equipe HD, 6Ter, Tvous la télédiversité, RMC Découverte and Chérie HD, will be distributed on the R7 and R8 multiplexes.

When the channels go live on December 12th only a quarter of France’s metropolitan population will be able to receive them via a rooftop antenna – although it is expected that the six will also have widespread carriage over cable, satellite and IPTV platforms. It is planned that terrestrial reception will be extended across the country by mid-2015.

HD channels in France are using MPEG-4 compression as opposed to the MPEG-2 compression used by standard definition transmissions. As of December 1, 2012 it is a requirement of French law that dealers only sell MPEG-4 decoders. MPEG-4 is of course backwards compatible with MPEG-2 and will be capable of receiving both standard and high definition channels.

Regulator CSA says that many HD receivers have been available to purchase since 2008, which have been used for the reception of existing HD channels including TF1, France 2, M6 HD and Arte HD.