French HDTV chooses Dolby

France’s Télévision Numérique Terrestre HD (TNT HD), its high-def digital terrestrial platform, which launched last week, has adopted Dolby’s Digital Plus audio system.

Initial services available on TNT HD include popular channels TF1 HD, France 2 HD, Arte HD, Canal+ HD, and M6 HD. Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Digital audio allows viewers to enjoy broadcasts in 5.1 surround sound.

Dolby Digital Plus is based on Dolby Digital technology. It is designed specifically to adapt to the changing demands of future entertainment delivery while retaining backward compatibility with the existing Dolby Digital 5.1-channel home theatre systems already in use.

“HD is synonymous with improved, high-definition audio,” said Jean-Pierre Lacotte, President of the HD Forum, France. “Everyone has a right to good sound—especially those who have invested in home theatre systems—and this new TNT HD service will provide superb HD images with 5.1 audio to match.”

The French HD forum specification requires that by December 2008 HD-ready TVs for sale in France must include Dolby Digital Plus and High Efficiency AAC (HE AAC) audio, emphasizing the importance of surround sound. Dolby recently announced its new Dolby Pulse technology, which is based on the HE AAC audio code standard. The Forum also expressed the preference of broadcasters for Dolby technology to deliver this experience, due to its compatibility with their production processes.

“We have been working very closely with the broadcasters in France as they have prepared to launch their new HD services,” said Tony Spath, VP International Broadcast at Dolby. “The switch-on of TNT HD is a significant step forward because it is one of the first major terrestrial HD platforms on the air in Europe, and is also the first major broadcast application to utilize Dolby Digital Plus.”