Like the United Kingdom and some other European nations, France is carrying out its deployment of terrestrial DTV/HDTV on a region-by-region basis. While that might make sense in several key ways, it also means some areas of the country will have HD services several months — or up to nearly two years — before other parts of French society.
The CSA, the French equivalent of the FCC in America, has based its latest rollout schedule on a standing agreement with French channels TF1 HD, France 2 HD and M6 HD, which operate multiplex R5.
As multiplex R5 is deployed region by region where terrestrial DTV is not yet offered (some analog switch-offs and digital conversions in France began many months ago), the trio of terrestrial HD channels will become available simultaneously. Two other channels, Arte HD and Canal + HD, are broadcast on other multiplexes and are already available in regions already receiving digital terrestrial broadcasts.
Within the several regions that are scheduled to switch to DTV and drop analog altogether in the first two quarters of 2010, multiplex R5 will be deployed on all main transmitters of the respective SD and HD channels simultaneously — with the lone exception of the Alsace region, where HD transmissions will not launch until Sept. 28, 2010.
For all regions where the DTV switchover is not coming until 2011, the CSA said broadcast viewers should have access to basic HD channels immediately upon deployment of their DTV services.
The CSA estimates national coverage of terrestrial HD should reach about 90 percent of French households by late 2011.