The French Open tennis from the Stade Roland Garros in Paris will be the first large scale live event to be broadcast across France over digital terrestrial television in ultra high definition with high dynamic range. It will serve as a warm up to the Olympic Games in Paris and represents a commitment to terrestrial transmissions. The attitude to terrestrial broadcasting in France and Spain is in marked contrast to the ambition of broadcasters in Britain.

4K UHD coverage of the tennis tournament has been available to some viewers for several years, but this year it will be broadcast widely across France. It is seen as preparation for the forthcoming Olympic Games in Paris.

France Televisions launched France 2 UHD on terrestrial television in January. This will be followed by France 3 UHD in time for the Olympics.

The UHD channels will also be available throughout France via satellite through Fransat and through various internet service providers.

The Olympics are often used to introduce new television technologies and this marks a commitment to the digital terrestrial television platform in France, where it is known as télévision numérique terrestre or TNT. It is estimate that 70% of homes in France have a 4K UHD television. There is a high penetration of online television from internet service providers, but a fifth of homes rely on terrestrial transmissions.

“The Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be an unforgettable event in the history of French television,” said Delphine Ernotte Cunci, the chief executive of France Télévisions, the French national public television broadcaster. “They are an opportunity to take a new step for our means of production and distribution, by offering an ultra high definition experience of our content to all audiences and on all screens. TNT remains the only means of access to television for nearly 20% of French people: with this evolution, France Télévisions is betting on its modernization and therefore its future.”

In Spain, RTVE has begun regular broadcast the programming of its main channel La 1 nationally in ultra high definition and high dynamic range, with a coverage of more than 99% of the population. It marks a long-term commitment to digital terrestrial television as the main plaform for the distribution of free television services in a country in which 80% of television viewing is received in this way.

This attitude is markedly different to that of the BBC in the United Kingdom. A submission from the BBC, recently published by the regulator Ofcom, suggested that the number of households who use only digital terrestrial television is decreasing and those households are more likely to be older, disabled and less well off.

The BBC suggests that the best way to ensure they are not left behind is to ensure that online television services are universally available and adopted. There seems to be little ambition or appetite for improving the quality of services on digital terrestrial television.

The BBC argues that spectrum constraints mean that it is not feasible to provide UHD programming via terrestrial or satellite services, suggesting that has been able to offer this through its online iPlayer.