A couple of items recently that suggest Europe is accelerating towards a high definition TV future. First, it has been reported
that Canal Digital, one of Scandinavia's two major pay TV providers, plans to "switch off" its SD (standard definition) TV channels. Jarl Søderman, deputy CEO, is quoted as saying the company will "take down" its SD channels in 2008, and that it is no longer buying new SD channels.
Canal Digital, owned by Norway's Telenor, has certainly been one of the more aggressive of Europe's digital TV providers, having been one of the first to launch regular HD services in 2005. But if this report is accurate, it would make the company the first in the world to switch completely from an SD to an HD platform. I will certainly be checking the fine details with Canal Digital - there are real question marks over whether any channel, let alone 100 or so regular entertainment channels, will be able to offer true HD content around the clock within the next year.
The second development has been the publication of the CSA's (France's regulator) summary
of the contributions in response to the consultation on HDTV on digital terrestrial TV. Of 18 contributions, only two (representing unions and regional and local media interests) object to the introduction of HDTV. This is probably more a reflection of the fact that France seems to have decided, regardless of any consultation procedure, to go ahead with HD-DTT in any case.
UK viewers expecting to see HD on the Freeview DTT platform will recognise a stark contrast: the UK is consulting instead on whether spectrum freed by the switch-off of analogue broadcasting should even be used for television, or instead be allocated to alternative communications providers.