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4K/UHD broadcasting gains momentum in Asia

By Josephine Tan

SEOUL – With the aim of enhancing the quality of 4K/Ultra HD (UHD) broadcasting for local audiences, three South Korean broadcasters — KBS, MBC and SBS — alongside LG Electronics and the Allied Platform, have launched TIVIVA, a terrestrial 4K/UHD interactive service.

Available on LG Electronics’ 4K/UHD TV sets, TIVIVA offers 4K/UHD terrestrial programmes, and is equipped with the ability to recommend customised categories and programmes for each viewer by analysing metadata of content, as well as big data of audiences’ viewership history.

Jean Hur, senior deputy director, international relations, MBC, told APB: “Broadcasters in South Korea and worldwide need to adapt and innovate in the current rapidly changing broadcasting environment.

“TV is no longer a linear model, and metadata analysis is a fundamental requisite for content analysis.

“Depth of data is necessary in order to interact with viewers. This way, we can deliver content they wish to be delivered.”
Having started 4K/UHD broadcasting initially in the Seoul Metropolitan area last year, South Korean broadcasters have been expanding the 4K/UHD content market both locally and globally. Lee Sang-Gyu, senior deputy director of engineering, research centre, MBC, added: “South Korea’s terrestrial 4K/UHD broadcast is a pioneer in the media industry, providing not only high-quality and high-definition broadcasting service, but also transmitting various services merging 4K/UHD broadcasting with other mobile HD-quality broadcasting.

“Moreover, there have been enquiries on South Korea’s 4K/UHD TV broadcasting from other Asia-Pacific countries, and we are ready to support should there be requests from other Asia countries on launching 4K/UHD broadcasting.”

During the Winter Olympic Games held last month in Pyeong­Chang, South Korea, 4K/UHD broadcast was further expanded to five other regions in South Korea, said Dr Amal Punchihewa, director, technology and innovation, Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU).

Moving forward, Dr Amal added that South Korea will progressively increase native 4K/UHD delivery by 5% annually, and reach nationwide 4K/UHD coverage by 2027.

Another terrestrial broadcaster who has successfully launched a 4K/UHD channel is Vietnam Digital Television (VTC). Calling the launch a “big change” in Vietnam’s TV set market, Phan Tien Dung, CTO of VTC, revealed that the network is planning to produce 4K/UHD content in 2018 for both its terrestrial TV channel and online platform.

He continued: “VTC TV station is planning to launch a VTCNow app across platforms such as iOS and Android. Like the South Korean broadcasters’ collaboration with LG Electronics, VTC is also looking forward to working with smart TV sets manufacturers so that we are able to interact with viewers via the app on mobile devices and TV.”

While 4K/UHD broadcasting has gained momentum in countries like South Korea, Japan and Vietnam, other countries such as Malaysia, which is still predominately engaged in analogue broadcast, 4K/UHD is still too early for terrestrial broadcasters, said Dr Ahmad Zaki Mohd Salleh, group general manager, engineering, Media Prima.

“Although broadcasters in Malay­sia will be asked to migrate to digital TV in July this year, many fundamentals issues have yet to be discussed and agreed upon,” he explained.

“Media Prima will continue its investments into HD facilities because 4K/UHD is still beyond our horizon for now. Keep in mind that going 4K/UHD is not merely about cameras, it involves back-end ope­rations — such as networks, servers, editing systems — that are all required to be upgraded.”

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