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France: Canal+ 3D Launch Set for Christmas

French pay-TV broadcaster Canal+ has confirmed widespread speculation that it plans to commence its first dedicated 3D channel in France by next Christmas.

Canal's chief technology officer told French media in the past week that it plans to spend the next few months "solving the remaining technical issues" (which were not specified) and was confident the 3D venue would be up and ready no later than mid-December.

In order to appreciate 3D viewing at home, French TV homes will need new 3D-compatible set-top boxes, as well as 3D HD sets. Consequently, initial 3D viewership in France (and elsewhere) would be expected to grow gradually over the next several years, if the new technology is to become successful.

Several set makers (including, most recently, Philips) have announced plans to ship 3D sets to retailers later this year. Philips' contribution will pertain to its Cinema-brand ultra-widescreen unit which boasts a motion picture-like 21:9 aspect ratio. The Dutch set maker has thus far concentrated its sales of its Cinema sets mostly in Europe.

While Canal+ likely will hold bragging rights for the first 3D pay-channel in France, across the channel, DBS provider BSkyB has plans to satcast its own 3D channel Sky late this spring.