Lots of people have been saying that Europe would learn from the HD experience in America and choose one, and only one, HD format as opposed to ATSC which defines about 18 different formats. The question has always been: which one? 720p50 or 1080i50?

Well, this being Europe, the answer is what I would expect: both formats are allowed. While the EBU is all for 720p50, the reality is that:

  1. Europe’s first HD station, Euro1080, broadcasts 1080i only.
  2. Sky HD in the UK broadcasts 720p and 1080i.
  3. EICTA, an assocation of the mayor European consumer electronics manufacturers, announced an HD TV and HD Ready logo program. The minimum requirements for an HD Ready TV display are: being able to display 720p50, 720p60, 1080i50 and 1080i60. An HD TV labeled HD receiver must support 720p50 and 1080i50 in the form of an MPEG 2 or MPEG 4 AVC compressed stream. I don’t know why they didn’t include 720p60 and 1080i60 in the HD TV requirements, nor do I know why the receiver must be called HD TV and the display HD Ready.

I believe that the logo program by EICTA is far more important than whatever the EBU has to say. The EBU is primary a union of the old, once state owned, now heavily subsidized, national broadcasters. Commercial TV stations take no part in it, although they will most likely spearhead the HD revolution since the national broadcasters are obliged to reach the largest audience possible in the most economical way.

Another believe of mine is that 1280×720 is not a big enough step above PAL’s 720×576 resolution, especialy since most TV’s are 16:9 now and thus have a 1024×576 equivalent square pixel size. 1080 line displays will sell a lot easier. Remember, HD isn’t even born over here. I’ve yet to meet someone with an HD (Ready) TV.