DTG: 12 months to standardise Ultra HD

January 22, 2014 11.33 Europe/London By Julian Clover

Richard Lindsay-DaviesThe Digital Television Group says it is taking an enthusiastic, but measured approach to the launch of Ultra HD/4k television services.

Speaking at a press briefing in London to outline the organisation’s plans for the year director-general Richard Lindsay-Davies said this was one of the best opportunities for a step change that would add value into the market.

“There are a number of people who came back from CES who came back from CES realising it’s a lot more real and a lot more tangible than they ever thought. There are a good two to three years before the mainstream will move and we’ve still got time in the next six to 12 months to really define what Ultra HD means.”

In addition to the well established D-Book and behind the scenes work at Freeview and Freesat, the DTG also runs the Ultra High Definition Forum. It is intended to bring together the ecosystem of Ultra HD and what the orgaisation means by it rather than have it dictated by the TV manufacturers.

Members including Disney, Warner Bros, the BBC and Sky met before Christmas, alongside component and silicon manufacturers and other interested parties such as the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People).

Simon Gauntlett, the DTG’s technical director, explained the organisation was not trying to step on the manufacturer’s toes, but instead trying to define am ecosystem. Issues include the colour requirements within the high dynamic range, the bit depth of resolution, and whether it’s higher frame rates than traditionally used in broadcasting.

“The experiments that the BBC and Sky have been doing show it has to be higher than 50z, it really needs to be 100, but that might be difficult,” said Gauntlett, explaining a problem Sky had shooting a football match in bright sunlight where more contrast was required to establish a reasonable picture.

Gauntlett noted that Netflix is only launching 4k to integrated software in television and not to external boxes because the studios are demanding the protection.

“Conversations with the manufacturers in the UK, their high-end sales guys are selling to footballers and celebrities, but it’s not moving the mainstream market,” said Gauntlett.

Separately, the DTG has been in discussion with both mobile network operators and the 5G innovation centre, and hopes to deliver a clear plan on the delivery of video to mobile by the Mobile World Congress (February 24 – 27).

The DTG is also looking at White Spaces and provide the same level of planning given to 4G. With frequencies closer to 700MHz the concern is more likely to lie with interference to TV reception from handsets, rather than base stations, as was the issue with 4G.

Lindsay-Davies also indicated that 2014 was the year when the UK would get closer to a standard for HTML TV, which would enable a move towards a more joined up approach for catch-up TV services through connected TVs.

There is also work through YouView on ad insertion and multicast, which Lindsay-Davies said benefitted from the involvement of telcos BT and TalkTalk in the hybrid-broadcast project.