German RTL to end DTT broadcasts

rtl-germany-dishRTL Deutschland has decided to terminate its current DVB-T distribution in the country. This will affect terrestrial distribution of RTL, Vox, Super RTL and RTL II and, for Berlin only, n-tv.

Terrestrial transmissions will cease on December 31, 2014, with the exception of its broadcasts in Munich, which will already end on May 31, 2013.

Commenting on the decision, RTL Deutschland said it continues to believe in digital terrestrial broadcasting, but that the current conditions in Germany prohibit long-term planning, posing a risk to the millions that need to be invested in terrestrial distribution.

The broadcaster points out that there are no guarantees that the German federal government will keep the current terrestrial frequency spectrum available for broadcasting beyond 2020.

In Austria, RTL takes part in the DVB-T2 project, which offers better guarantees for the future including a long-term plan and assurances about the usage of the frequency spectrum. “We can evaluate the DVB-T2 project in Austria, in contrast to Germany, more positively. The conditions are better – encrypted distribution and long-term planning security by ensuring the necessary frequency resources.”

RTL also said it only believes in encrypted broadcasting and there needs to be an industry-wide plan for DTT in place. This would involve using a more efficient means of transmission, e.g. DVB-T2. For the moment, RTL does not see an economically viable business model.

Terrestrial distribution is extremely expensive “more than thirty times than that of satellite distribution”. RTL’s audience share on DVB-T is also very low, just 4.2% during 2012.

DTT also offers a very limited number of channels, 30 channels at the moment on DTT as compared with 93 on cable and 117 on satellite.