Exclusive: ZDF supports transition to DVB-T2

Jörn Krieger | 11-10-2012

German public broadcaster ZDF has pronounced itself in favour of a transition to the new transmission standard DVB-T2 on digital terrestrial television (DTT).

The target would be to transfer to the successor of the currently used DVB-T system in a consumer-friendly way through a simulcast period, a ZDF spokeswoman told Rapid TV News.

At the same time she stressed the significance terrestrial broadcasting holds for ZDF as a transmission method. The current usage figures published in the media authorities' "digitalisation report 2012“ would show that DTT was a solid player in the competition of transmission infrastructures and has even managed to slightly grow in the past year. In urban areas, more than 25% of households have chosen this reception method with the figure including second and third TV sets in a household, DVB-T sticks and other small reception devices.

"For viewers, DTT reception is free-of-charge and usable without huge installation effort. The portable and mobile reception of linear TV content is a unique feature of terrestrial broadcasting, this can't be realised with any other reception technology," the spokeswoman explained.

"Terrestrial broadcasting is also largely independent of access providers, it is a transport model without a platform operator. This guarantees viewers direct, unrestricted and unfiltered reception without influence by third parties. It is therefore a textbook example of an unencrypted and non-discriminatory reception method," she stressed.

"For these reasons alone it is important to stick with terrestrial broadcasting and develop it in a sustainable and competitive way by using new technological achievements, this is also supported by ZDF." From a technological view, ZDF considers the frequency need for DVB-T2 to be just as high as currently for DVB-T2 in the medium and long term, said the spokeswoman. Though, during the simulcast stage - the dual transmission in DVB-T and DVB-T2 - the frequency demand could be higher in some regions for a short period of time.

ZDF has participated in the DVB-T2 trial in northern Germany to get familiar with the system's possibilities and variations in detail, explained the spokeswoman: "We now know, for example, that DVB-T offers the possibility in conjunction with new coding algorithms to transmit all channels of the ZDF family without time-sharing in a single multiplex and that cost savings can be achieved in broadcasting compared with DVB-T."

Germany has made no official decision yet on a possible DVB-T2 deployment. The successor of the currently used DVB-T standard enables more channels and HDTV services on terrestrial airwaves, but viewers need new reception devices.

Public broadcaster ARD recently indicated that it would generally be open towards a transition to DVB-T2. The commercial broadcasters would also consider this move, but only under the condition that it would lead to cost savings .