The German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF plan to switch off their analogue transmissions on Astra on April 30, 2012, according to Carl Eugen Eberle, ZDF Director of Legal Affairs, who announced the news during the FRK cable congress in Leipzig.
At the moment, the two main channels from ARD and ZDF are available in analogue on the Astra position of 19.2 degrees East. Also, all so-called “third channels”, the regional broadcasters, are still broadcasting in analogue.
This time it looks like a “firm” deadline has been set. However, the main commercial broadcasters, the RTL Group and ProSiebenSat.1, still have to set their deadlines, but it is now believed they will also switch off at the same time.
The analogue broadcasts come at a considerable cost to the broadcasters, especially as both ARD and ZDF plan HD simulcasts for their main channels starting this winter. In effect, this will mean that ARD and ZDF will be available in digital SD and HD as well as in analogue for a period of more than two years.
The analogue switch-off concerns only satellite; digital terrestrial transmissions in the country have already stopped.
It remains to be seen what cable operators will decide; they still distribute both analogue and digital versions of the public channels.