HDTV Format Wars Also Fought in Europe

In a replay of events in the United States, HDTV scanning formats are hot topics among European broadcasters. The numbers being bandied about in Europe versus those bandied about domestically are the same, but different. In Europe, it's 720p/50 and 1080i/25, to match Europe's traditional field and frame rates, instead of 720p/60 and 1080i/30, as in the United States and other 60-Hz countries.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU)--an organization largely composed of state-owned broadcasting entities--published an editorial on the HDTV format wars in its EBU Technical Review . In the editorial, the EBU strongly favors progressively-scanned formats, recommending 720p/50 for emission, which has the same horizontal pixel and line counts as the United States' 720p/60, but with the 50-Hz frame rate. It further supports an effort to move toward 1080p/50 for emission, when it becomes feasible and practical. For production equipment, the EBU recommends to European broadcasters equipment capable of operating in at least three formats: 720p/50, 1080i/25 and 1080p/25.

The EBU editorial goes into some technical detail supporting the endorsement of progressive HDTV formats. It is interesting to note the many parallels between the European transition to HDTV and that of the United States.