More German broadcasters give up on DTT

The success story of the DVB’s digital terrestrial standard is being blotted by defections at the center of its zone in Germany as broadcasters there are deterred by lack of commitment from the authorities.

The latest planning to cease transmissions, later this year, are the Bavarian regional broadcasters Euronews, home shopping Channel 21 and Regionalfernsehen Oberbayern and 21 and Bibel TV.

This follows the more serious withdrawal by national commercial broadcaster RTL, which has announced that its four channels, RTL, RTL 2, Vox and Super RTL, will stop DTT transmission on August 1. The broadcaster has also threatened to remove all channels from DTT in the absence of guarantees that the frequencies will be retained for broadcast usage beyond 2020 and not be handed over to cellular operators. Broadcasters like RTL plan terrestrial services over long-time scales and so need assurance that spectrum will continue to be available over a decade or more.

Elsewhere in Europe, DTT is less under threat as many countries proceed with migration to the second generation DVB-T2 standard, which improves capacity by around 66 percent through advanced spectral management, error correction and encoding. In the UK the Freeview HD service transmits via DVB-T2, along with 12 channels in Italy by Europa 7 HD and others in Denmark, Sweden, Serbia and Ukraine. France in 2011 decided to postpone transition to DVB-T2 until at least 2016 but since then the regulator has recommended that the switch be made by 2020 at the latest, along with deployment first of MPEG4 and then the latest HEVC compression standard.

RTL though has dismissed DVB-T2 as being insufficient to make DTT economically viable, with the indication that over the air transmission will in future be best suited just to mobile reception rather than delivering TV to fixed antennae. This would seem to mean broadcasters giving up their spectrum and having to collaborate with cellular operators over mobile TV delivery, rather than exploiting the DVB-T2 Lite standard, a version of DVB-T2 optimized for transmission to portable devices.