Representatives from the BBC and Sky are to lead a group to co-ordinate requirements for Ultra HD television in the United Kingdom. The Digital TV Group, the national industry association for digital television, has launched the UK UHD Forum, which will work closely with FAME, the recently established Forum for Advanced Media in Europe, and other European standards organisations.
FAME is an initiative led by the European Broadcasting Union and the Digital Interoperability Forum and supported by the European Commission. It includes manufacturers, broadcasters and national forums.
The UK UHD Forum will be co-chaired by Andy Quested, the head of technology for HD and UHDTV at the BBC, and Chris Johns, the chief engineer for broadcast strategy at British Sky Broadcasting.
The group will co-ordinate national requirements to enable interoperability and examine whether there is a requirement for an Ultra HD profile for the United Kingdom.
There is already a standard for Ultra HD in the International Telecommunications Union recommendation ITU-R BT.2020, which covers production and international programme exchange.
One might wonder why one country would have particular requirements for Ultra HD television, but at least it should ensure that both the BBC and Sky adopt a common approach.
It is the first indication that the BBC and Sky are seriously considering the implications of Ultra HD distribution, following a number of technical trials, although it does not necessarily mean that service launches are imminent.
With some 4K resolution displays already on the market, a key requirement will be agreement on specifications to ensure that they are fully compatible with any future services.
It is vital that the step-change demanded by Ultra HD be fully understood prior to any implementation of an ‘Ultra HD Ready’ logo, to avoid the consumer confusion created by the ‘HD Ready’ branding that turned out not to mean ‘Full HD’.
It will also be desirable to avoid the confusion caused by the rush to launch 3D displays and services, with competing approaches to delivery and presentation, which compromised quality and the consumer experience.
Most consumers appeared unpersuaded by the benefits of 3D television. It is still not clear whether the next revolution in resolution will be driven by consumer demand or whether it is a result of technology push, particularly from display manufacturers hoping to sell premium products.
The displays of the future will not only have increased resolution, like the 4KTV displays already on sale, but are likely to have improved colour depth, dynamic range and frame rates.
“This is a real opportunity to re-invigorate the market and through collaboration generate the greatest economic value for the UK,” said Richard Lindsay-Davies, the director general of the DTG.
William Cooper of informitv will be chairing The Great Quality Debate at the IBC Conference in Amsterdam on 14 September 2013, moderating teams of speaker responding to the question: Do we really need to go beyond HD?