Nº 5 2012 > ITU at a glance

Ultra-high definition television: ITU Recommendation ushers in a new age

ITU has announced a new Recommendation that will hasten the advent of ultra-high definition television (UHDTV) and create an entirely new television broadcasting environment. ITU’'s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU–-R) has developed the standard — or Recommendation — in collaboration with experts from the television industry, broadcasting organizations and regulatory institutions in its Study Group 6.

Ultra-high definition television: ITU Recommendation ushers in a new ageFrançois Rancy, Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau
François Rancy, Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau

The new draft Recommendation on the technical details for UHDTV is now being submitted to administrations for approval.

The quality of television pictures has improved dramatically since the early days of black and white screens. Now flat panel displays offer sparkling high-definition colour. But technology does not stand still. The ITU–R Recommendation lays out the quality standards for UHDTV in two steps. With each of these steps, the quality improvement is roughly comparable to the step from the old standard-definition television to high-definition television (HDTV).

HDTV pictures today have the equivalent of 1–2 megapixels. The first level of UHDTV pictures has the equivalent of about 8 megapixels, and the second level comes with the equivalent of about 32 megapixels. Ultra high-definition picture quality is accompanied by improved colour fidelity, and options for higher numbers of pictures per second than for today’s television systems. The Director of ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau, François Rancy, said “I have seen the UHDTV pictures, and they are absolutely stunning — the sense of being there is superb.”

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré praised the work of ITU–R Study Group 6. “UHDTV is an earth-shaking development in the world of television,” Dr Touré said. “Watching UHDTV in the near future will be a breath-taking experience, and I look forward to it.”

David Wood, Chairman of ITU–R Working Party 6C, which developed the draft new Recommendation, said “This is the dawn of a new age for television that will bring unprecedented levels of realism and viewer enjoyment. It is a historic moment. Some years will pass before we see these systems in our homes, but come they will. The die is now cast, thanks to the untiring efforts of the international experts participating in Working Party 6C.”

Chairman of ITU–R Study Group 6 Christoph Dosch added, “The Recommendation means that organizations around the world can safely begin work to make UHDTV a reality.” 


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