Spain broadcasters must label HD

Following the public complaint made by electronic manufacturers for the lack of a real HDTV in the country, the Government is finalising a new piece of legislation that will oblige broadcasters to label their content, in an attempt to avoid public confusion between HD and standard definition services in the market.

Several nationwide TV broadcasters -TVE, Tele 5, Antena 3 and La Sexta- and Regional TV stations -TV3, Telemadrid, Canal Sur, TPA, TV Canarias or Aragon TV- are already providing HD services through DTT, but not all the content is real HD.

Electronic manufacturers are crying out against the poor quality of the present HD TV that the commercial (private) TV channels are offering for lack of enough bandwidth in their respective multiplex with a capacity of up to 4 TV channels.

The broadcasters are dedicating only 6 to 7 Megabits per second to their HD TV channels, out of the 20 Megabits they have in their multiplexes as none of them are willing to reduce the number of their DTT channels to the benefit of a real HD TV channel. As a way of comparison, it is half the capacity satellite operators are using for HD TV. It is also far from the 8 to 10 Megabits public broadcasters, like RTVE, are using in their HD TV channels.

For electronic manufacturers, terrestrial broadcasters “are not broadcasting real HD TV”. Even the TV channels acknowledge that they have launched “HD without H”. As a result two different HD TV types are being developed in Spain: a first class HD TV led by satellite operators and distributed by satellite platform Digital Plus and a second class HD TV offered by terrestrial private TV channels.

Despite this, HD TV in Spain is likely to significantly grow over the next two years to 11.5 million HD TV sets sold in the market in 2011, according to consultancy firm GfK.

By the end of 2010, 6.6 million HD TV sets will have been sold with another 5.5 million in 2011. So far the HD TV devices already sold are estimated at around 3 to 3.5 million, 10 per cent of the market, so all the industry relies on the Christmas campaign to sell another 3 million.

GfK is taking for granted that HD TV will be a success in Spain, despite the fact that HD DTT penetration only reaches 18.3 per cent of the country. Even worse around 12 million TV sets in the country, 46 per cent of the total market, are not ready for HDTV and other 11 million need a special STB to watch it, according to the Electronic Association Asimelec.

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