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09.30.2004
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
IBC2004 sees debate heat up over future shape of European HD

The future nature of HDTV in Europe drew serious attention at IBC2004 with battle lines being drawn along clearly defined lines.

At the heart of contention is whether the future shape of HD in Europe will be progressively scanned or interlaced. Prior to the opening of IBC, a meeting of EBU public broadcasters in Stockholm indicated strong support for 720 lines of progressively scanned video in any future European HD standard. Specifically, the BTQE group chaired by the BBC’s Mike Croll agreed to a proposal for a 720-line, 1280-pixel progressively scanned system at 50fps.

The group pointed to the availability of new MPEG-4 codecs, like AVC and VC1, the burgeoning growth of large LCD displays in consumer televisions as two factors indicating that the time is ripe to move forward with the 720p standard for Europe. It foresaw a rollout by 2006 or 2007.

Opponents of the 720p approach have argued that the standard will fall short because it will be years before the production equipment necessary to support it is available. They contend that 1080i offers higher resolution and can be supported with today’s production equipment.

At IBC2004, the EBU’s Phil Laven, who directs the technical department, announced at a public HD forum that the matter is far from settled. Calling the EBU’s deliberations on a HD standard “a work in progress,” Laven stated that a final decision on a European HD standard won’t be established until next year.

For more information, www.ibc.org and www.dtg.org.uk/publications/mediacast/dtg_mcast_croll.pdf.

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