The Astra capacity that will be freed up from April 30, 2012 by switching off the analogue signals from the German public broadcasters will be used to launch HD versions of the factual channel Phoenix and the so-called ‘third channels’ of BR, NDR, SWR and WDR.
All German broadcasters have agreed to stop all analogue broadcasts, both public and private, on April 30, 2012. This will free up a lot of capacity on the Astra position at 19.2 degrees East, the main satellite DTH position for the German speaking market. With only the two main public channels in HD, ARD Das Erste HD and ZDF HD, all eyes are now on which of the many thematic and regional (third) channels will go HD.
“Every public broadcaster wll decide for itself when to launch HD broadcasts,” said Monica Piel, the new chairwoman of the ARD, during a press conference in Cologne. She said the four main ‘third channels’ will be the first to launch HD versions. Each of the broadcasters will have to bear the additional costs of HD themselves.
With the exception of Phoenix and Eins Festival, there seems to be no priority in launching HD versions of Eins Plus and Eins Extra. However, ZDF will most likely start an HD version of the 3Sat channel.
At the moment, German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF transmit their HD versions in 720p, which is subject from heavy criticism from viewers. The ARD broadcasters have now started to produce all their native HD content in 1080i, but there are as yet no plans to start broadcasting in 1080i.