France Télévisions has announced a new first for broadcasting, as it confirms a way that can be used by some UK viewers to access its new UHD service.
- Fransat will get the two new UHD channels that will carry coverage of the 2024 Olympics.
- New broadcasting standard to be deployed so that the same signal can be used for terrestrial back-up
Last month, Jacques Donat-Bouillud, head of distribution at France Télévisions indicated that agreements with operators was at an advanced stage.
This week, France Télévisions announced it had signed a deal with Eutelsat to add France 2 UHD and the part-time France 3 UHD to the Eutelsat 5° West B satellite.
It means anyone with a UHD compatible Fransat receiver within the satellite’s footprint will be able to watch a full simulcast of France’s main public service channel, plus the temporary and part-time France 3 UHD service.
Both channels will provide viewers with access to UHD coverage of the Paris 2024 Olympics.
The new services are expected to go live in early 2024.
There’s been no word over negotiations with Canal+, who operate the rival terrestrial alternative service TNT Sat on Astra 19.2°E.
Fransat is a so-called free-to-view service, meaning although the signal is encrypted, once you have the relevant equipment and viewing card, you do not have to pay a subscription.
The service carries all major French TV channels.
Satellite receivers and viewing cards are available online from specialist UK retailers. Viewing cards have a four year expiry.
Eutelsat 5 West B is available through a 60cm (e.g. Sky zone 2) dish pointing at the satellite in southern England. Further north, an 80 cm dish is required for reception across mid Wales, the Midlands and Anglia. Liverpool to Hull lie near northern edge of the official footprint, where a 1 metre dish and specialist installation is recommended. Further north, reception is unreliable following recent changes to the Fransat coverage area.
All in one signal: DVB-SIS
Some satellite viewers may know that Eutelsat 5 West B also carries the feed for France’s digital terrestrial TV network (TNT), which is delivered to transmitters across the country.
The terrestrial feeds are only receiveable on certain types of satellite receiver. These are free-to-air.
Traditionally, French broadcasters appear twice on Eutelsat 5 West B, carrying their stream in two formats – once for Direct To Home (DTH) reception on Fransat and once for the terrestrial transmitter feed.
But France Télévisions has confirmed it will become the first to deploy a new broadcast standard meaning only one signal needs to be broadcast.
DVB-SIS (Single Illumination System) utilises TS multiplexing to combine various MPEG-2/4 streams into a unified signal, transmitted via QPSK/8PSK modulation on a single transponder.
In short, France 2 UHD and 3 UHD will only be broadcast once on Eutelsat 5 West B, saving on capacity and avoiding duplication.