The coronavirus pandemic is delaying the transition to the DVB-T2 terrestrial TV standard in parts of Central and East Europe.
In the Czech Republic, the national transmission company CRa announced on March 17 that it was suspending the process, due to be completed in June, until the end of this month. However, three days later, on the basis of an agreement between it, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and Czech Telecommunications Office (CTU), the government approved a temporary interruption to the shutdown of the DVB-T network until the COVID-19 situation is stabilised.
The move was justified on the grounds that there could be problems in the supply of DVB-T2 reception equipment during the crisis.
Terrestrial TV reception is hugely popular in the Czech Republic, with almost two-thirds (60%) of viewers watching services. Furthermore, almost all (99%) households in the country can already receive DVB-T2 broadcasts, which offer viewers 30 TV channels free of charge.
Terrestrial TV is also in a strong position in Croatia, where according to the local regulator HAKOM 43.93% of homes watched FTA and a further 4.72% pay-DTT services as of the end of last year.
Earlier this week HAKOM announced that it would be suspending the full DVB-T2 transition date until at least the end of November or beginning of December. As in the case of the Czech Republic, the reasons for doing so are the coronavirus pandemic and significant impact it is likely to have on the availability of receivers.
This will be the second time HAKOM has put back the date, having most recently done so late last year from May 1 to July 1, 2020 at the request of the national transmission company OiV.
Elsewhere in the region, the latter’s Hungarian counterpart Antenna Hungária was due to embark on a six-month, 10-step DVB-T2 transition process on March 3. It remains to be seen if this is completed on time or also delayed by the crisis.