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UK 4K channels given green light by DVB UDTV standard approval

Sam Loveridge by


The DVB Steering Board has approved the DVB-UHDTV Phase 1 specification, paving the way for 4K UHD TV channel broadcasting.

This specification approval is a huge development for TV broadcasting, as it offers a HEVC profile for DVB broadcasting services that will enable UHDTV Phase 1 delivery.

That will allow broadcasting of images up to a 3840 x 2160p resolution, four times better than regular HDTV (hence the 4K name), at a maximum of 60Hz.

Depth will also be given an upgrade with the specification too, with a maximum of 10 bits per pixel supported at this stage.

“HEVC is the most recently-developer compression technology and, among other uses, it is the key that will unlock UHDTV broadcasting,” said Phil Lave, DVB Steering Board Chairman. “This new DVB-UHDTV Phase 1 specification not only opens the door to the age of UHDTV delivery but also potentially sets the stage for Phase 2, the next level of UHDTV quality, which will be considered in upcoming DVB work.”

Basically, HEVC is the compression system used to deliver Netflix’s 4K streams. HEVC can deliver four times the pixles, but only needs double the bandwidth of standard HD.

However, sadly this new specification isn’t compatible with any existing 4K TV sets, even those equipped with in-built HEVC decoding.

If you’ve already shelled out on a 4K TV set, you’ll have to buy a compatible set-top box when they eventually launch. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute still needs to formally standardise the new specification, so you’ll be in for a wait yet.

Read more: Best TVs 2014

Via: HDTVtest

Go to comments


July 7, 2014, 2:18 pm

I seem to recall when I purchased my last full HD TV finding that no broadcasts on Sky, Virgin or Freeview were even using 1080 yet - that they were all broadcast in 720. Is that still the case, or is HD actually HD now?


July 7, 2014, 2:35 pm

its now broadcast in 1080i (not 1080p) AFAIK

Prem Desai

July 7, 2014, 3:59 pm

Sadly, HD was given a very confusing birth. All formats 720p, 1080i and 1080p are considered HD.

In the UK, all HD transmissions are 1080i. Most TVs will convert them to 1080p.

I fear that 4k is going to go through the same confusing process again. Manufacturers have been quick with their panels but there's almost no material to watch apart from some movies on Netflix.

I believe the biggest push behind 4k or UHD will come when we can buy 4k movies (Blu-Ray?) and players.

Wait for a year or two. Your HD TV isn't obsolete yet!!


July 7, 2014, 4:37 pm

Come to the conclusion that it's worth waiting and not invest in a 4k tv just yet. Hopefully the Oled manufacturers will kick off big time with lower costs in next two years

Don Believeinthem

July 8, 2014, 12:51 am

Sky is 1080i and while acceptable most of the time, is sometimes
compressed horribly. The bitrate varies randomly between channels (and
days of the week!) Films on Sky Movies HD can look close to blu-ray
quality, or like an upscaled DVD, complete with added pixellation and

Freeview HD channels often look
better with the same content, even via Sky. (BTW Transmissions vary
between 1080p & i via Freeview, even during the same programme)

Also, there are still only a comparatively small percentage of HD channels, and the hundreds of SD channels have decreased in quality over the years to the point where some are unbearable. Perhaps before worrying about how to ruin (super-compressed) 4K images, they should try broadcasting HD properly?

Don Believeinthem

July 8, 2014, 1:16 am

Brilliant. So now there's literally no reason to buy a 4K TV. Not even my favourite excuse of "future-proofing". Why don't they just make them available as monitors? We'll have to buy separate equipment to use them anyway, plus they'd be cheaper, less to go wrong, and probably produce a better picture having less electrical interference.

I'm so glad this sparkly new technology has stalled the 1080p OLED market which was just trickling towards sensible prices, after I've been waiting for a decade now. Of course that grey & cloudy edge-lit 55 inch LCD screen will really benefit from those extra upscaled pixels...


July 8, 2014, 8:27 am

That was kind of my point! Seems silly to be discussing 4K when you consider the state of HD/SD. Not suggesting it's a bad idea, just typical roll-out.


July 8, 2014, 12:00 pm

Without wishing to be pedantic, both BBC and Sky do broadcast 1080p25 inside a 1080i50 stream for certain material like films where the source material is available in 1080p. In simple terms, modern TVs can understand that and can rebuild the single 1080p25 image from the 2 1080i25 frames inside the 1080i50 stream. Clever.

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