This event took place in Montreux Switzerland, June 1st to 4th. It is a replacement for the former Montreux International Television Symposium. And as one could imagine it’s focus was all about digital television; the transmission and distribution, production, HDTV, program and non program associated data and multi media opportunities.


CDTV presented a paper on the DTV work we are doing in Canada along with some of the concerns and issues that we are working on. Andree Wylie, vice chair for Broadcasting at the CRTC was also at the Forum participating on a panel concerning the future role of the public service broadcaster in a Digital world. CDTV members who were also there included Bernard Caron from the CRC and Terry Snazel from Bell Expressvu .


It is perhaps comforting to know that many of the transitional issues that we face in Canada, including costs and finding the right business case are shared by just about every other country in the World. The debate about which transmission standard is the best: 8VSB or COFDM, while not a focus of one session was certainly the hallway buzz for many delegates. There is a lot of expectation riding on the ATSC’s RF Task Force to find the right solution in a timely manner and not delay the US rollout.


While there were the inevitable debates and issues, there was no doubt expressed by any participant that wide screen digital was the future of television and that the industry is only debating about the best way to get there in the context of the national markets they serve.


The Americans were pushing very hard that all future programming destined to an international market should be HDTV 1080i/p.( The current ITU recognized common image format for HDTV) Although the 720p proponents made the case that for flexibility and bandwidth reasons this format should also be considered as an international production standard, there was at least agreement from all that the future was wide screen. There was also acknowledgement from European broadcasters that they will have to assess their strategies for production destined for the North American market and their own future HDTV plans.


There were also a number of impressive data and multi media ideas put forward with Microsoft and other specialists providing useful ideas. It is clear that the killer application isn’t here yet, but there are a number of ideas in development that will lead to new business opportunities, that bundled together may in fact be the new revenue streams that broadcasters, producers and distributors are all looking for to help finance the transition.


All in all a useful event, that reminds one that we are still at the very beginning of our digital journey, but it may be a very quick ride once we get going.