Mediaset mulls Italian HD HDR transition

Marco Pellegrinato, Director R&D & Innovation at Italy’s RTI – Mediaset Group, has suggested that the country could adopt an interim HD HDR phase between 2018 and 2022 over digital terrestrial television prior to moving to Ultra HD HDR.

Speaking during a panel session on ‘Italy is Busy with Ultra HD’ in the Sony 4K Ultra HD Theatre at MIPTV, Pellegrinato noted that capacity on the DTT platform and the ability to broadcast in higher resolution is currently limited as a result of the use of the DVB-T1 standard. He reported that a successful 4K trial broadcast of an Italian football match had taken place at the end of the 2015/16 season. “At that time, we had some problem on different receivers, because most receivers at home were not fitted with that standard. There was some legacy equipment coming from 2014 and 2015 that was not able to display the 50-frame experience. Three further trial match coverage had revealed user enjoyment of the experience as sets became available, but these did not involve HDR.

“The only experience we have on 4K HDR is on broadband. We have one pay-TV service. We offer our subscribers 60 movies in 4K HDR, but again, since then, TV sets were generally not compatible with the HDR format,” he advised, noting that since the standardisation of HDR, picture quality was now “more enjoyable” on most TV sets.

“So, the question of the standard is very important in order to allow the broadcaster to broadcast every day in Ultra HD HDR for everybody,” he declared, confirming that the Italian HD Forum was committed to including the Ultra HD HDR standard in 2017 to enable industry to manufacture the right TV set for the market and to allow broadcasters “to begin the Ultra HD era”.

Accordingly, he confirmed that Mediaset was investing in shooting some programming beyond sport in Ultra HD. “This doesn’t mean that this will be aired in Ultra HD,” he clarified, suggesting that, speaking personally, he was aware of the considerable investment sums needed to make that switch.

“In the meanwhile, we are acquiring a knowledge base for Ultra HD HDR shooting … but broadcast in HD. We have a big opportunity in Italy because in 2018 to 2022 we will work in a four-year timeframe to introduce new technology like DVB-T2 and the HEVC codec. That means much better quality and much less bandwidth as possible. So maybe we find in that new efficiency some extra bandwidth to allow broadcasting of HD HDR in a new progressive form. So, what we invest to produce content in full Ultra HD HDR could be downscaled to HD HDR and broadcast in a period from 2018 to 2022 on a new channel in DVB-T2 in order to attract people to enter in the dimension of new TV set and new screen. Beyond 2022, we envisage a replacement of legacy equipment with  new in households,” he concluded.

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