DigiTAG seeks to inform members and non-members about important developments in the digital terrestrial television market. Each month, DigiTAG distributes its web letter with news updates and further exploration of one topic.
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Digital switchover in Croatia
Digital switchover was completed in Croatia at the end of 2010. On 5 October 2010, all high-power analogue transmissions were switched off followed by the switch off of low-power analogue transmissions. Despite the availability of three DTT multiplexes, the government has taken steps to ensure that the DTT platform continues to develop and offer viewers access to quality services.
In July 2008, the Croatian government approved the digital switchover framework legislation which set the deadline for the completion of analogue switch-off for 1 January 2011. While the DTT platform officially launched in May 2009, extensive trials had been underway beforehand. In May 2002, trials began in Zagreb while in 2007 the government undertook its Digital Istria project to allow Istria to become the first all-digital region in the country. In addition, an HD trial on the DTT platform took place in Zagreb, Split, Rijeka and Osijek in 2007 and 2008.
The Croatian Post and Electronic Communications Agency (HAKOM) granted the first commercial DTT license in April 2009, which enabled the official launch of the DTT platform in May 2009 and allowed the DTT network operator, OiV, to extend the coverage of the platform and increase the service offering. Steps to bolster the terrestrial television platform were much needed given the significant drop in the number of homes relying on it for their primary television reception between 2007 and 2010.
While the terrestrial platform was the primary reception platform in 74.8% of households in 2007, its market share decreased to 58% of television homes by the third quarter of2010. In this same period, the IPTV platform grew significantly, increasing its market share from 3% in 2007 to 18% in 2010. The satellite platform slightly increased its market share from 8% to 12% while cable remained stable with a 9-10% market share.
It is expected that the launch of new services will allow the DTT platform to stabilize, if not reinforce, its market position. However, the success of the DTT platform will also depend on neighboring countries abiding by international frequency plans. Since 9 December 2010, the Croatian DTT platform has suffered from interferences caused by uncoordinated DVB-T transmission sites in a neighboring country. This has resulted in areas in the north western part of the Adriatic coastal region, Istra County, being unable to receive national DVB-T services.
The Croatian regulator, HAKOM, is currently in contact with the responsible national administration and the ITU to try to fix this problem. However, until the problem is resolved, reception of the Croatian DTT platform is not possible in that area which may force viewers to find alternative television reception platform. In addition, the DTT network operator faces extra cost for the purchase of additional equipment necessary while broadcasters are losing market shares.
DTT service offering
Currently, the DTT platform offers services from three multiplexes. Multiplex A offers a replication of the services that had been available on the national analogue terrestrial, including the two main services of the public service broadcaster HRT (HRT1 and HRT2) and two commercial services (RTL and Nova). It is available to more than 98% of the population.
Multiplex B offers viewers access to services that are new to the DTT platform. HRT will launch two new services, HRT3 and HRT4, while the two leading commercial broadcasters, RTL and Nova each already launched one new service, RTL2 and Doma TV respectively, in January 2011. Multiplex B is available to more than 95% of the population.
A third multiplex, Multiplex D, consisting of two networks, is available to provide both national/regional as well as local services. Depending on the region, different services are available. However, three national services will be made available by March 2011 following the allocation of DTT service licenses by the Croatian Electronic Media Council (AEM) at the end of last year. These services are CMC, a music channel from Autor, Sportska, a sport channel from the Croatian Olympic Committee, and Kapital Network, a business channel from Kapital Net. The deployment of Multiplex D is currently underway and will eventually be available to 92% of the population and at least 70% of the population in each region.
All of the services on Multiplexes A, B and D are available free-to-air and use the MPEG-2 video and audio compression format. This compression technology was selected given the widespread penetration of compatible receivers in Croatia during the trial of the DTT platform. Multiplexes A and B operate as single frequency networks (SFNs) while Multiplex D operates as two networks, a national/regional single frequency network (SFN) and a local single frequency networks. All multiplexes are operated by the incumbent broadcast network operator OiV.
A fourth multiplex, Multiplex C, currently offers HD/DTT services from HRT and Nova on a trial basis. It is not yet clear what services will be finally offered from this multiplex although it is likely to use the MPEG-4 AVC compression standard.
Handling analogue switch-off
Analogue switch-off began on 26 January 2010. On this date, Istra County became the first all-digital region in Croatia following the switch-off of its national analogue terrestrial services. During each month of 2010, one of the nine digital regions completed analogue switch-off until the process was completed on 5 October.
Before a region could begin analogue switch-off, the government ensured that the DTT platform provided the relevant population coverage, the existing analogue services were available in digital and viewers had received the necessary information about the switchover.
Digital switchover roadmap in Croatia (click to enlarge)
To help viewers prepare for analogue switch-off, the government put in place an Action Plan to provide viewers with information about the process. Viewers were informed with the reasons for digital switchover, the benefits of digital television and how to ensure proper preparation. This information was made available through television advertisements, website, brochures, press releases, scrolling text on analogue television programmes, workshops, and a Digital Switchover Road Show where experts travelled to different towns in the country.
The government, together with the DTT platform operator OiV, set up a call centre to handle viewer queries. In total, it received 179,041 calls from the time it was set up in 2008 until the completion of digital switchover in 2010.
The government also made subsidies available to help with digital switchover. Viewers were eligible to receive a voucher worth 75,000 HRK (€10) to use towards the purchase of a digital receiver, regardless of the digital platform. These vouchers needed to be redeemed by 31 December 2010.
Following the completion of digital switchover, the government is now considering how to use remaining capacity in the UHF frequency band. With the allocation of the frequencies from 790-862 MHz for wireless broadband services, it is still possible for 8 DTT multiplexes in the UHF band to offer a mixture of national and regional services. In the VHF band, capacity for one DTT multiplex is available.
To try to determine interest in the market for the provision of new services on the DTT platform, the regulator HAKOM opened a consultation last November inviting potential service providers to comment on how additional DTT capacity should be used. Possible uses include pay-DTT, mobile television and HD services. HAKOM is accepting responses to its consultation until 28 February and plans to use them as the basis for its decision about how the remaining available RF spectrum will be used.
Source: Natalie Mouyal, DigiTAG Project Office
DigiTAG aims to encourage and facilitate the implementation and introduction of digital terrestrial television services using the Digital Video Broadcasting Project's Standard (DVB-T). It has some 60 members from broadcasting, network operators, regulatory, and manufacturing organisations throughout Europe and beyond.
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DTT NEWS ROUND-UP
For access to the full articles archive, please go to DigiTAG News
United Kingdom - 73% of households access DTT platform
The latest figures published by communications regulator Ofcom show that 92.6% of households had digital television at the end of September 2010.
The DTT platform accounts for 10 million homes which represents 39.1% of the television market. A total of 18.8 million households (73.4%) access the DTT platform for their primary and/or secondary television sets.
In 2010, a total of 13.7 million DTT receivers had been sold in the first nine months of the year. Since 2005, 62.6 million DTT receivers have been sold.
Source: Ofcom website
France - DSO aid extended to overseas territories
As part of the digital switchover process in its overseas territories, the CSA has agreed to extend the financial aid available to viewers.
The amount of aid available to households will be greater than in the rest of France since households in the overseas territories will need to purchase receivers compatible with MPEG-4 AVC rather than MPEG-2.
Source: CSA website
Estonia - Tender for free-to-air DTT service
The Ministry of Culture has opened a tender for a nationwide free-to-air television programme slot on the DTT platform.
The new service must provide general programming in the Estonian language including culture, entertainment, news, and children programmes. The license will be available for 8 years.
Currently, the DTT platform offers four free-to-air services - ETV, ETV2, Kanal-2 (Schibsted)and TV3 (MTG/Viasat) - as well as 24 pay-DTT services.
Source: Ministry of Culture
South Africa - ASO moved to December 2013
The government has decided to move the date for the completion of analogue switch-off to December 2013.
Initially, analogue switch-off was set to be completed by November 2011.
Lithuania - Nearly full DTT population coverage achieved
The coverage of DTT services has been expanded with the installation of two new transmission sites. With a network of 30 transmission sites, the DTT platform has nearly universal coverage.
Viewers can access free-to-air or pay-DTT services. The pay-DTT service provider, TEO, offers 40 television programme services countrywide and a further 3 HD services in the regions of Vilnius and Kaunas.
Source: TEO website
United States - NAB launches campaign to support DTT
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the organisation promoting broadcasters in the USA, has launched a new information campaign to support over-the-air television.
This campaign is the result of the proposed broadband plan presented by the communications regulator FCC to use terrestrial broadcast frequencies for the provision of broadband services.
Source: The Future of TV website
United Kingdom - DTG recommendations on future of DTT platform receives government backing
The recommendations in a report published by the DTG last December on the future of the horizontal digital TV market in the United Kingdom have received the backing of government.
These recommendations are based on a consultation the DTG launched in 2010 and subsequent meetings held with government officials based on the consultation responses.
Source: DTG website
Israel - ASO delayed until March
The Ministry of Telecommunications has decided to postpone analogue switch-off.
Initially set to take place on 2 February 2011, it will now take place on 30 March 2011.
Source: Go Digital
Netherlands - Nearly 900,000 subscribers to the Digitenne platform
The number of homes subscribing to KPN's Digitenne platform decreased by 4000 in 2010 to reach a total of 895,000 households.
The drop is due in large part to the heavy marketing of the KPN IPTV package which increased its subscriber base by 57,000 homes in 2010. It had a total of 302,000 subscribers at the end of 2010.
Source: Broadband TV News
Ireland - ComReg discontinues mobile TV licensing procedure
The communications regulator ComReg has decided to discontinue the license award process for mobile television services.
This is due to the limited interest from potential service providers and the lackluster performance of mobile television elswhere in Europe.
Source: ComReg website