ARD, the umbrella organisation of the German public broadcasters, has announced that its three thematic digital channels EinsFestival, EinsPlus and EinsExtra will start their HD simulcasts in 2014.
The regional broadcaster MDR will also launch its HD version in 2014. For the moment, these plans are for satellite distribution via the Astra position at 19.2 degrees East only.
The first batch of new HD channels from the ARD starts on May 1, 2012, when the analogue signals from the German public broadcasters will be switched off. HD versions of the factual channel Phoenix and the so-called ‘third channels’ of BR, NDR, SWR and WDR start broadcasting on that date.
Public broadcaster ZDF will use the freed up capacity to broadcast HD versions of its thematic channels ZDFkultur and ZDFneo from May, 2012. ZDF will most likely also start an HD version of the 3Sat channel, but so far no definite launch date was announced.
At the moment, there are three German public channels available in HD, ARD Das Erste HD, ZDF HD and Arte HD. There are also test transmissions of the EinsFestival HD.