The Dish Network claims it has become the first broadcaster to offer programming in full high definition 1080 line progressively scanned format. DIRECTV says it will offer movies in 1080p later this year. Both pay-television providers are competing to offer more and more high-definition channels, launching additional satellites to provide the capacity.
Dish now offers up to 114 national channels in high definition and plans to expand this to 150 by the end of the year with the addition of its latest Echo XI satellite. It is calling its high definition offering TurboHD. That is a reference to the turbo code error correction scheme used to enhance the efficiency of transmissions.
Dish offers the first all high-definition suite of programming packages. “We know that once consumers start watching their favourite TV shows in high definition, their viewing habits change and their preference switches to all-HD programming,” said Charlie Ergen, the chairman and chief executive of Dish Network.
An upgrade to all their MPEG-4 HD DVR receivers will enable them to output 1080p programming. The company says that by early August, all Dish Network customers with MPEG-4 HD DVR receivers will be able to output 1080p programming to compatible high-definition displays.
DIRECTV has also announced that it will offer movies in 1080p later this year. It says that with its new DIRECTV 11 satellite and the launch of Direct 12 next year, it will have the capacity to deliver 200 national channels in high definition and 1,500 local high definition and other channels.
“Despite all the sound and fury of confusing HD claims from our competitors, our customers understand that DIRECTV is the destination for the most compelling and complete lineup of HD content,” said Derek Chang, who heads up content and strategy development at DIRECTV.
For some years informitv has been advising that 1080p will become standard for high-definition. Initially only 1080i interlaced displays were available to early adopters of high-definition, but now 1080p or ‘Full HD’ displays are common.
With television service providers now competing to offer the most channels in high definition, the ability to offer 1080p is the next step. The move to 1080p is being driven by Blu-ray discs and games consoles.
However, the broadcast industry is now lagging behind the capabilities of consumer displays. There is still limited production equipment to deliver full progressively scanned high-definition. Programming is initially likely to be limited to movies, which are inherently produced in a progressive frame format, typically at 24 frames per second.