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Euro broadcast industry still in a fug over that 4K-ing UHD telly

'More How than Wow' says Sky

Maintaining standards

Broadcast standards, of course, remain a hot topic. This week, the ITU is holding intense discussions to resolve the issue of standards regarding HDR (High Dynamic Range) broadcast and reception.

This is important, says Richard Salmon, Lead Research Engineer, BBC R&D. The old adage ‘an ounce of contrast is worth a whole heap of extra resolution’ still holds true, he says. “Hopefully by the middle or end of this year we will have standards set by the ITU for higher dynamic range.”

Salmon also suggested that we might well end up with different standards for different media, whether it’s packaged or broadcast. Let’s hope somewhere along the way boffins also figure out how to stop photochromic Reactolite Light spectacles turning black when watching an HDR broadcast.

UHD-1 roadmap phases

UHD-1 roadmap phases – click for a larger image

There again, maybe none of this standards angst really matters at all. Thomas Wrede, VP of reception systems at SES, said he had doubts that the proposed three phases of Ultra HD (Phase 2 involves an adoption of high-frame rates, HDR and better colour, while Phase 3 opens the door to 8K) could be introduced in a five year time span anyway, given that the history of TV typically shows decades between fundamental broadcast shifts.

Controversially, he says such rapid evolution may not even be necessary. “If I look at UHD Phase 1 already see many improvements. We have more resolution, we have 50/60p with less motion blur, we have 10-bit encoding. I think consumers will appreciate this.”

“Will broadcasters really implement three UHD standards within five years? I have my doubts, but do we need to hurry?” he said.

He may well have a point. Perhaps TV is now as good as it needs to get. ®

Steve May is a veteran AV journalist and senior editor at Inside CI.

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