The information was communicated by Jacques Donat-Bouillud, director of development of the broadcast and distribution networks of France Télévision during an interview given to our colleagues from Smart Integrations Mag, the TNT born on November 30, 2011 from a first Switch-off (date of the cessation of analogue terrestrial broadcasting of the channels) will experience, after a second Switch-off for the transition from Mpeg2 to Mpeg4 (for a generalization of high definition, HD) in 2016, a third Switch-off with the transition from HD to Ultra HD 4K, by 2029.
Switch-off TNT 100% 4K by 2029
If UHD 4K broadcasting will begin in France on the occasion of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games (and even before, see further in this news) with France 2 and France 3, it will continue for France 2 permanently after this global sporting event. The France 3 channel in UHD 4K for the broadcast of the Olympic events will then return to HD. Jacques Donat-Bouillud indicates that around 20 million Ultra HD 4K televisions will be able to benefit from these Ultra HD 4K signals in the summer of 2024.
Once the rate of UHD 4K TV equipment in homes has reached 95%, or in 2028/2029, Jacques Donat-Bouillud specifies that it will be time to stop HD broadcasting for all TNT channels to move to Ultra HD. Thus, within five years at the latest, 100% of French DTT will be offered in UHD 4K quality. Other information (from the editorial staff of AVCesar.com), TF1 UHD and M6 UHD should join France 2 UHD by the 4K UHD Switch-off. Thus, we would find ourselves in a situation similar to that of the transition to HD DTT with some channels in HD quality (TF1, France 2, Canal+, Arte and M6), the others in SD.
France 2 UHD and France 3 UHD, available on satellite and ISPs
Jacques Donat-Bouillud also points out that the signals from France 2 UHD and France 3 UHD will be picked up by the satellite (Fransat for sure, Canal Sat it is likely), the same for the ISPs (Bouygues, Free, Orange, SFR) so that as many viewers as possible can enjoy UHD 4K broadcasting, if they have a fiber subscription of course (in addition to rare high-speed ADSL subscriptions).
In terms of deployment schedule, nothing precise yet but the schedule predicts that most major French cities will be covered at the end of the first quarter of 2024. It will be earlier for Paris and the Paris region, mid-December 2023 (France 2 UHD and France 3 UHD tests are also planned in Paris and the Paris region between November 1 and 15). For the rest of France, 70% of the metropolitan population will be covered by the end of June 2024. It is currently impossible to go further, i.e. 100% of the population covered due to lack of radio frequencies. We will have to wait for the UHD 4K Switch-off to recover all of the frequencies used for HD broadcasting and then offer 4K DTT to 100% of the population of the metropolis.
France 2 UHD, HD Simulcast Descriptor technology in action
Jacques Donat-Bouillud announces that the start of 4K DTT, with France 2 UHD, will be in Ultra HD HDR10 with audio section in AC3 and AC4 (Dolby Atmos) and DVB-Sub subtitling (TTML protocol to come more late). We give you the technical details further down in this news. On the other hand, it announces the implementation of HD Simulcast Descriptor technology (on France 2 UHD only so as not to interfere with the regional disconnections of France 3) allowing the television to automatically switch to France 2 UHD, if it is in an area covered by a UHD transmitter of course.
France 2 UHD, what 4K Ultra HD content?
In terms of content, Jacques Donat-Bouillud announces that major sporting events will be captured and broadcast in native Ultra HD 4K: we are thinking of Roland-Garros, the Six Nations Tournament, the Coupe de France, the Tour de France (not before 2025 indicates Jacques Donat-Bouillud…), live performances (like Music Festival, the Césars, the Molières…), major events (we think of the July 14 parade). And, over time, the other broadcasts on France 2 will gradually move to Ultra HD 4K.
France 2 UHD 4K and France 3 UHD 4K, audio and video specifications
The other information published in our previous news on the subject remains relevant, namely the implementation of these two channels through a dedicated UHD multiplex with an overall streaming capacity of 35 Mb/s (DVB-T2) . Like France 2 UHD 4K, France 3 UHD 4K will also broadcast 100% of the time in UHD 4K.
The video technical characteristics of France 2 UHD 4K and France 3 UHD 4K, for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, will therefore be as follows: definition 2 160p, display frequency 50p (i.e. 50 Hz progressive), color encoding on 10 bits, HDR10 technology (via ITU-R BT.2100), HEVC compression and 16 Mb/s constant bitrate. For audio, E-AC3 and AC4 are on the menu (some old 4K UHD TVs are not AC4 compatible hence the E-AC3 backward compatibility) for, respectively, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Atmos.