Comment: Ultra HD throws back SD broadcasts by years

@ Auerbach Verlag

ARD and ZDF want to continue the 25-year-old and technically outdated SD broadcast for several years, new technologies like Ultra-HD will be delayed. There could have been better solutions.


ARD and ZDF originally said that an information campaign on SD shutdown had to start 18 months beforehand. The current transponder contracts expire in early 2021, so the ideal cut-off date would have been November 2020 or January 2021. The public broadcasters decided on the January date, since the viewers could then have used the Christmas season for retrofitting and buying new equipment. However, the announcement of the January 2021 switch-off date was delayed by the institutions and sometimes did not take place until the beginning of 2020. Then there was another month of silence and no information campaign. So it is only logical to postpone the shutdown.

But not by 3 years! By six or nine months by the end of 2021 it would have been enough. The steadily falling usage figures for SD via satellite speak for themselves. According to the digitization report 2019 of the state media authorities, there are 17.256 million households with satellite reception. The penetration with at least one HDTV device was 80.0% in 2018 and 82.4% in 2019. 11.4% said they did not have an HD device, 6% did not know it. According to the 2019 study, 72.5% were already watching HD in satellite reception. A good information campaign would have pushed the share to well over 90% by 2021. Especially since device prices have been falling for years. Free-to-air HD receivers are already on the market for less than 40 euros, digital TVs with triple tuners are available for a few hundred euros.

If SD continues to run for so long, this will also delay innovation. ARD and ZDF will not start any further parallel broadcasts for Ultra-HD as long as the predecessor system (SD) still incurs costs. The Ultra-HD innovation will now take place in streaming until further notice. By the way, Switzerland switched off SD via satellite at the end of February 2016. You just have to dare.

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  • CoverDF: @ Auerbach Verlag


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