Multi HD channels for French DTT

From Sotires Eleftheriou in Paris

The French broadcasting regulator CSA selected the projects submitted by TF1 and M6 for the two private sector HD channels on DTT, rejecting the projects from pay TV channel Canal+ and the project from the AB Groupe.

The third available HD channel has been reserved for France 2. The CSA also announced that it would issue a call for more candidates. It emphasised that it had preferred free channels to a pay TV option in order to bring HDTV to the greatest possible number. Its selection criteria also included the broadcasters' undertakings: TF1 and M6 had undertaken that respectively 100 percent and 80 percent of programmes aired between four pm and midnight would be in HD. Broadcasts on these three HD channels should begin by the spring of 2008.

The CSA also said it would revise the bandwidth allocation for the pay channels which use MPEG4 to make better use of the technical progress in compression techniques. This will enable it to free space for a further HD channel. It will issue a call before the end of the year for a current SD pay channel to be converted to HD – clearly intended for Canal+.

Finally, the CSA is to issue another call early in 2008 for three more HDTV channels using frequencies available in several large towns.

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