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Television in the 16:9 screen format

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1) OBJECTIVE

To ensure the accelerated development of the market for advanced television services in the 16:9 format, using 625 or 1250 lines to contribute to the market penetration of television receivers in the 16:9 format.

2) ACT

Council Decision 93/424/EEC of 22 July 1993 on an action plan for the introduction of advanced television services in Europe [Official Journal L 196, 05.08.1993].

3) SUMMARY

The Decision provides for an action plan for the introduction of advanced television services in Europe. The programme covers the period from 22 July 1993 to 30 June 1997.

The objectives of the action plan are two-fold:

  • to achieve a critical mass of advanced television services in the 16:9 format;
  • to arrive at a sufficient and increasing volume of programming in the 16:9 format with high technical quality to facilitate an optimum audience rating.

Funds amounting to ECU 405 million have been earmarked for these objectives; these are Community funds (ECU 228 million) and funds from other sources (own funds, national funds, equipment manufacturers, satellite operators and others with interests in the sector). Funds will partly cover the additional costs to broadcasters and programme producers of providing advanced television services. Preference will be given to projects receiving parallel funding from economic operators. No funds will be given to support manufacturers of receivers for the consumer market.

4) IMPLEMENTING MEASURES

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5) FOLLOW-UP WORK

First annual report on progress on implementing the Action Plan for the introduction of advanced television services in Europe. Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee of 16 June 1995 [COM(95) 263 final].

This report essentially covers two aspects: the production and conversion of programmes and broadcasting.
As regards the production and conversion of programmes, the following preliminary conclusions can be drawn with regard to the performance of the Action Plan:

  • the Action Plan has made it possible to inform programme producers and broadcasters in Europe about the new technologies and the new generation of television. They have been encouraged to think European. The circulation of programmes in Europe is a crucial matter in a market where programmes are still very few and far between in some countries;
  • the independent production sector is showing encouraging signs of development;
  • the European Union's contribution has helped to arouse the interest of and obtain support from economic operators, opening up other sources of funding;
  • however, the independent producers are still in a difficult economic position and their cash flow is often subject to constraints which makes Community aid vital. Community measures to reinforce the diversity of this sector must go hand in hand with structural reinforcement.

On the subject of broadcasting, two elements have to be taken into consideration:

  • from a supply side perspective, the achievement of 22 services in eight Member States testifies to the interest of the broadcasters and their willingness to participate in offering 16:9 to the public under the conditions set out in the Council's Decision. It is however too early to assess the impact of Action Plan broadcast funding. There is a lag between the time when broadcast funding is committed and when it affects the market. The impact on the consumer electronics market should become evident towards the end of 1995 and during the first quarter of 1996;
  • the Commission considers the introduction of the 16:9 format to be a strategic element bringing in new services and products which the audiovisual and consumer electronics market can offer to the public in the convergent future of the Information Society. In particular, it reflects the long-standing convergence between cinema and television.

Second annual report on progress in implementing the Action Plan for the introduction of advanced television services in Europe. Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee, of 26 July 1996 [COM(96) 346 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

This report for 1995 shows how the Action Plan for the introduction of advanced television services has triggered the first stage in the transition from the old 4:3 screen format to the 16:9 wide screen. It describes the progress since last year's report and the future prospects of this programme. It is divided into two sections, the first covering "broadcasting" and the second covering "production" of 16:9 programmes.

Annual report to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee, of 13 July 1998, on progress in implementing the action plan for the introduction of advanced television services in Europe [COM(98) 441 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

This is the final Annual Report on the activities of this four-year Action Plan. It focuses on the activities carried out during 1996 and 1997 and on the results of implementation in the Member States. It also contains an assessment of the impact of the Action Plan on the market and on the sectors concerned.

Last updated: 19.08.2002
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