Digital television in Russia

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The first intensive discussions and activities on the transition to digital television broadcasting (DTV) in Russia started in 1997 and an initial comparison of DVB-T and ATSC systems was made. In the end the DVB-T system was considered to be the more suitable for Russia, because it fits smoothly into the existing frequency plans of Russia and its neighbouring countries. In Russia, the first legal act to set the standards for the digital transition was the Government Resolution No. 1700-r of 29 November 2007, which approved a Concept Paper for the Development of TV and Radio Broadcasting in the Russian Federation in 2008-2015. This document was elaborated by the high-level Governmental Commission on Development of TV and Radio Broadcasting originally headed by Dmitry Medvedev in his capacity as first vice-chair of the government.[1]

Beginning[edit]

In December 2005, a project was launched to create a digital television network in the Republic of Mordovia, where the DVB-T standard is utilized. The project objective was to ensure, for the population, the possibility of receiving a large (up to 10) number of TV channels and several radio stations in the stereo broadcasting mode and in the digital DVB-T standard. The project was implemented by OJSC "Volga Telecom" (a subsidiary of "Sviazinvest") with support from the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communication of Russia, the Ministry of Culture, the National Association of TV Broadcasters and administration of the Republic of Mordovia.[2]

This pilot project was completed in February 2007 in Kochkurovo. If, at the initial stage of project implementation, the rural residents had received 10 TV channels and four radio stations, now it became possible to receive 24 TV and 8 radio channels. A pilot project on digital broadcasting was also conducted in the Yamal-Nenetky district. Its first stage was completed in 2007 via the commissioning of the digital terrestrial TV system in the village of Kharampur. Its residents could now receive 15 TV and 5 radio channels in MPEG-2 format. The regional and provincial channels, bundled in three terrestrial packages, are received via different satellites.[3]

The transition of terrestrial TV from analogue into digital format (in DVB-T standard) has been announced as being a government priority in Russia and identified in the document Concept of TV Broadcasting Development in Russian Federation within 2008-2015. The main positive factor in the introduction of terrestrial TV broadcasting in DVB-T standard, according to the opinion of market players, has been the approval of a TV broadcasting development framework in the Russian Federation for 2008-2015 (approved by resolution of the RF Government №1700-p, dated 29 November 2007).[4]

The total investments in the transition of terrestrial TV from analogue into digital format are expected to be 10 billion Euro during the period 2008-2015.

The main factors that have a high positive influence upon the rates of terrestrial DTV introduction tend to be general political and macroeconomic factors. Commercial factors do not have a significant influence upon rates of introduction of digital standards for terrestrial broadcasting. Cable television would gain the largest financial benefits from the introduction of digital television.

On May 10 during Sviaz-Expocomm – 2011, the 23rd International Exhibition of Information Technologies and Communication Services in Moscow, Russia’s national telecommunications operator Svyazinvest, together with Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network signed a cooperation agreement to organize the terrestrial transmission of digital content to the RRBN transmitters across the country, thus enabling the broadcasting of eight federal TV channels (Channel One, Russia 1, Russia 24, Russia 2, Russia K, Channel 5, NTV, and Karusel) and one local channel (it's "first multiplex" of digital television).[5] According to the Federal Programme, these channels will be broadcast within the first DTV multiplex (i.e. within one physical terrestrial TV channel with 8 MHz bandwidth) using MPEG-4 compression.

DVB-T2[edit]

On June 2011 DVB-T2 tests got under way in Moscow. On July 2011 The Russian government commission on the development of TV and radio broadcasting, has supported the Communications and Mass Media Ministry’s suggestion to roll out DVB-T2 test zones, the government’s press service has announced.[6] During the tests, various operating parameters of DVB-T and DVB-T2 standards were measured for the following characteristics: the signal/noise ratio, field density, the effective speed, image quality, etc. The results led to the conclusion that the effectiveness of the evolutionary channel exceeds the earlier one by about 1.5 times, in particular, the data transmission speed in the 20 MHz band.

On September 2011 a governmental commission had approved the use of the DVB-T2 standard for the development of digital terrestrial TV in Russia, as proposed by the Ministry of Communications. The digital terrestrial TV network is currently being tested out in the Tver Oblast. According to the plan new regional networks will be deployed under the DVB-T2 standard and existing DVB-T networks will be upgraded to the new standard[7]

2008-2015 Federal program[edit]

The Programme is be implemented in several stages. At the first stage, the system projects for the regional DTV networks are to be developed. Frequency planning for the whole country is a complicated task due to lack of frequencies, because during the transition period (expected to end 2015) simultaneous broadcasting of the same channels in both analogue and digital is expected. Construction of the network for the first DTV multiplex is going to be completed between 2009 – 2013, and construction of the networks for the second and the third multiplexes will be done in 2013 – 2015. The networks of the fourth and the fifth multiplexes may carry HDTV and DVB-H mobile TV channels with interactive services. Within the framework of the Programme more than 6500 broadcast stations are going to be equipped with new DTV transmitters and a considerable part of the antenna feeder systems will be upgraded. For the distribution of DTV signals to terrestrial networks, four new satellites ‘Express-AM’ are to be launched between 2010 and 2013. Also in the framework of the Programme, more than 200 high power DRM transmitters for LW, MW and SW bands are going to be installed as well as 370 additional FM transmitters.

Implementation of the 2008-2015 program[edit]

In the first stage of the Program (2009) the conditions for the transition to digital broadcasting were to be provided. This stage included: development, examination and approval of the system projects for 1st phase of construction of the digital television broadcasting networks in the regions, construction of pilot digital broadcasting networks in regions intended to fine-tune the technological solutions planned for implementation, spacecraft design and development to assure the orbital launch in time for providing the necessary broadcasting frequency resources.

The second stage of the Program (2010-2015) includes implementation of planned broadcasting development activities, widespread transition to digital broadcasting, creation of conditions for sequential shutdown of analog broadcasting in the country, and complete establishment of common information area in the Russian Federation, including modernization and expansion of existing TV and radio broadcasting infrastructure (upgrading, retooling of antenna mast structures and engineering utilities, replacement of emergency facilities and structures); construction of digital terrestrial broadcasting networks for delivery of mandatory TV and radio channels and other free access channels; construction and launch of communications and broadcasting satellites; construction of digital and VHF-FM radio networks; awareness-raising activities to ensure successful and smooth introduction of digital broadcasting in the Russian Federation; creation of an archival digitalization system.

Bands allocation moratorium[edit]

The Ministry of Communications and Mass Media suspended the allocation of bands for analogue television broadcasting in December 2007. The reason for this moratorium was the necessity to adopt a new plan of spectrum allocation for digital television broadcasting. This plan was partly approved by a decision of the State Commission on Radio Frequencies on 19 March 2009. It confirmed the first multiplex of eight channels and was based on the recommendations of the Governmental Commission on Development of TV and Radio Broadcasting and in particular the Development Concept drafted by the Commission. The decision of the State Commission on Radio Frequencies foresees that once these eight digital programmes will be ready for broadcast, they will need no further permissions from the CKRCh provided that their over-the-air transmissions correspond to the relevant technical standards.[8]

The exact line-up for the first multiplex was confirmed by a Presential Decree of 24 June 2009. In October 2009, the moratorium was lifted for those areas where spectrum allocation for digital TV had been completed. Existing analogue television broadcasting channels that were incompatible with the digital plan in progress were to be repositioned to different frequencies. The lifting of the moratorium aimed to permit the renewal of analogue licences after their expiration (the maximum licence term in Russia is five years). As a result of the moratorium some TV companies had failed to renew their licences, which they had then eventually lost because their frequencies were either taken by the first multiplex or remained vacant as they interfered with digital TV.[9]

Second multiplex[edit]

Channels included in the second digital multiplex, unlike the first multiplex channels are not required for all operators of cable and satellite television in Russia, but will be open, free and widely distributed via digital terrestrial broadcasting, organized by state company Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network, which is among the strategic Russian companies. By early 2014, broadcasting channels in this package had already begun in Kazan, Moscow and Grozny and other towns. In most regions, the second multiplex launch during 2014 - 2015, when the broadcast network will be built.[10]

The second multiplex began began broadcasting in June 25 in Kazan. In early September, it was launched in Magadan, where with Minister of Communication Nikolai Nikiforov together with the acting governor of the Magadan Oblast Vladimir liver attending the opening ceremony. On December 5, the second multiplex was launched in the area of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and in Moscow it was launched on December 12, 2013.[11]

List of channels on multiplexes[edit]

MUX1
Channel Owner Type
Channel One Russia Government of Russia (51%), National Media Group (25%)
Russia 1 VGTRK
Russia 2 VGTRK
Russia 24 VGTRK
Russia K VGTRK
Channel 5 National Media Group
NTV Gazprom-Media
Karusel Channel One & VGTRK
Russian Public Television Government of Russia
TV Center Moscow Media
Radio Rossii VGTRK
Radio Mayak VGTRK
Vesti FM VGTRK
MUX2
Channel Owner Type
REN TV National Media Group Federal
Spas TV Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate Federal
CTC CTC Media (MTG (37,94%), National Media Group (25,2%)) Federal
Domashniy CTC Media (MTG (37,94%), National Media Group (25,2%)) Federal
TV-3 Gazprom-Media
NTV Plus Sport plus Gazprom-Media
MIR MIR state broadcasting
Zvezda Russian Ministry of Defense
TNT Gazprom-Media
Muz-TV UTV Russia Holding
MUX3
Channel Owner Type
planned
planned
planned
planned
planned
planned
planned
planned
planned
VGTRK Region (planned) VGTRK

References[edit]

  1. ^ Concept of development of TV and radio broadcasting in Russian Federation in 2008-2015 (Концепция развития телерадиовещания в Российской Федерации на 2008 — 2015 годы)
  2. ^ Groteck Co., Ltd for the European Audiovisual Observatory
  3. ^ Digital television in Russia report- Grotec, p.65
  4. ^ The European Audiovisual Observatory
  5. ^ Rostelecom’s backbone network to transmit digital TV content across Russia
  6. ^ Russian govt commission OK's testing of DVB-T2 digital TV networks
  7. ^ Russian govt approves DVB-T2 standard, 26 September 2011, DVB Worldwide
  8. ^ Development of Digital Terrestrial Television in Russia and Ukraine
  9. ^ Development of Digital Terrestrial Television in Russia and Ukraine
  10. ^ Во второй мультиплекс вошли десять цифровых каналов
  11. ^ "Москвичи увидели второй мультиплекс". comnews.ru. Retrieved 14 December 2013.