Korea to Launch World's First 3D Terrestrial Broadcasts May 19

SEOUL: The world’s first over-the-air broadcast in 3D will commence in South Korea in nine days, according to The Korea Times. The country’s broadcast regulator announced that four TV networks would commence 3D transmissions May 19. The launch will mark the first regular 3DTV broadcasts to be delivered by terrestrial, over-the-air transmissions. The limited 3DTV launch in the United Kingdom earlier this year was via satellite.

The Times didn’t indicate the transmission system to be used--Korea’s full transition to digital broadcasting concludes the end of 2012. However, an official from the Korean Communications Commission said the broadcasts would be delivered in full high definition. Korea is one of the few countries outside North and Central America to use the ATSC digital broadcasting transmission standard.

The 3DTV trails in South Korea are being launched in conjunction with competitions leading up to the 2011 World Championship Athletics in the city of Daegu. The four networks participating include the Korean Broadcasting System, the nation’s primary public broadcaster; Munhwa Broadcasting Corp., a nonprofit; privately owned Seoul Broadcasting System; and the state-run Educational Broadcasting System.

The KCC has set aside a single channel for three hours of live 3D programming a day initially, then more during the FIFA World Cup. SBS is the national rightsholder for the World Cup soccer championship matches scheduled for June 11 through July 12.

Viewing stereoscopic 3D will require compatible sets, which Korea’s LG Electronics has introduced to the market. It rolled out the Infinia LX9500s in March, LED 3DTVs set in 47- and 50-inch models. The 47-inch is priced at about $4,100 and includes two pair of shutter glasses. The 3D Infinias were scheduled for global availability this month.

LG Electronics is looking to corner 25 percent of the global market for 3DTV sets this year, or roughly 950,000 of the 3.8 million sets projected to sell. The manufacturer formed a 3DTV partnership last December with SkyLife, the nation’s satellite broadcaster, which launched a 3DTV channel Jan. 1.

An official with the KCC said that standardization would follow the launch of the over-the-air 3DTV transmissions.
-- Deborah D. McAdams