Spectrum Battles Cross the Pond

European broadcasters face political issues over allocation
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Two issues—spectrum and overly loud advertisements— that are top of mind with U.S. broadcasters were also important ongoing concerns for European broadcasters at IBC2011.

While much progress is being made on the loudness issue, with many European broadcasters implementing the EBU R 128 recommendation to address the problem, several thorny political issues remain in the question of spectrum allocation.

Like U.S. broadcasters, European broadcasters have lost, or are about to lose, spectrum as various countries move forward with the transition from analog to digital. But proposals to take additional spectrum beyond the transition to digital could create serious problems for broadcasters, says Hans Hoffman, head of media fundamentals and production technology at the European Broadcasting Union Technical Department and engineering VP at the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE).

“The telecom industry is always interested in using more and more of the spectrum,” Hoffman says. “But I think taking additional spectrum is very dangerous, and we have been working to provide information on why those frequencies are important for broadcasters.”

One issue that the EBU highlighted during IBC is the problem of interference with LTE devices; another is posed by the transition to DVB-T2 used in the digital terrestrial TV services (DTT).

DTT offerings are already extremely popular in many European countries, where they are a key component of the future of broadcasting. DVB-T2 has the potential of nearly doubling the capacity of these networks, which would allow more high-definition channels to be added.

But DVB-T2 is not backwards-compatible with the existing DVB-T standard, which means broadcasters will need spectrum for both DVB-T and DVB-T2 signals during what may be a lengthy transition, Hoffman notes.

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