TNT: no, your TV will not be scrappy from 2016

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Aina Prat
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A few days ago, the association 60 Millions de Consommateurs set fire to the powder: many media relayed the information according to which "millions of Spaniards [would be] threatened with black screen" from 2016. It therefore seemed to us useful to take stock – and to reassure all those who are in love with their small screen.



Why this cry of alarm? It's simple: April 2016 is the deadline chosen for the next evolution of DTT. In concrete terms, the MPEG-2 standard, which is now twenty years old, will definitively give way to the MPEG-4 standard, which, for example, makes it possible to enjoy high-performance coding standards, such as H. 265 which we told you about a few months ago. This development will nevertheless have a negative consequence: non-compatible televisions will be unable to restore the signal (black screen) – in any case by their own means.

Am I concerned?

By evoking "10 million devices in service in Spain", Le Figaro was able to give the impression that very many households risked finding themselves deprived of TF1 and others. In practice, however, this figure should be moderated. Indeed, the "black screen" will only concern devices connected to a simple rake antenna. However, as the CSA specifies in its report on the audiovisual equipment of households in the first half of 2014, "only 8% of households equipped with at least one television set receive television only through the rake antenna without being equipped with a DTT HD adapter". Clearly, we are already below the bar of 3 million households concerned.



You do not receive television via ADSL, cable or satellite? Do not panic, this does not mean that it will be necessary to change anything to continue watching the weather. Indeed, rake antenna or not, the bulk of the television sets in service already have a device compatible with the MPEG-4 standard, or "TNT HD", as it is sometimes called. For televisions over 66 cm, it has been mandatory since December 2009. As for the smallest models, their compatibility obligation dates back to December 2012.

A simple test

Of course, it is not necessarily easy to remember when you bought your television, or even the details of its technical data sheet. A small test can nevertheless confirm or invalidate the compatibility of the device with DTT HD. To do this, you just have to make sure that the signal comes from the rake antenna (no ADSL box, cable or satellite socket) and turn on your TV on a channel that theoretically broadcasts in HD. Arte, for example, offers excellent coverage and is found by default on channels 7 and 57. If, on one of these two channels, the "Arte HD" logo is present (in addition to the image and, possibly, sound), then the television already includes a TNT HD decoder.

Unfortunately, my TV is unable to display Arte HD!...

...So should I buy a new one? If this is the case, it is very likely that this screen is not very young. It is even possible that it is a CRT television, and not a flat screen, like all the models marketed in recent years. But that does not prevent you from using its services to watch television: all you need to do is invest 30 € to add a TNT HD decoder, which will simply be placed between the socket and the television.



On the occasion of the publication of the timetable for the allocation of the 700 MHz frequency band, the government had also specified "[that] a plan will be [it] put in place to accompany the cessation of the broadcast in MPEG-2 so that no home suffers from a black screen on the occasion of this mutation". The terms, although very vague, suggested that financial assistance to affected households would be possible.

Remember, however, at the same time, that a decoder will not be able to do anything for the definition of the screen. A CRT TV, for example, will not be able to display high definition channels. In 2016, even attached to a so-called "HD" decoder, it will be satisfied with a more modest definition, called SD - in other words, the same as it has probably displayed for the last 5, 10 or even 20 years.

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