ITU approves H.265/HEVC second edition standard

Friday, November 21st, 2014
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International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standards will enhance television viewing experience

  • World Television Day highlights role of TV in global communication

GENEVA — Today is World Television Day. Television is recognized as a major tool in informing, channelling and affecting public opinion. Its impact and influence on world public opinion and decision-making cannot be denied and today Television represents a symbol for communication and globalization in the contemporary world.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 November as World Television Day in 1996 in recognition of the increasing impact television has on decision-making by bringing world attention to threats to peace and security and its potential role in sharpening the focus on other key areas, including economic, environmental and social issues.

“ITU is currently working on developing new standards that will dramatically enhance the television viewer’s experience, in terms of both visual and audio quality,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré. “ITU is developing industry-leading standards for the next generation of television that will be available in very high definition as well as high performance dynamic video streaming.”

The first commercial services of Ultra High Definition Television have already begun. In coming years, ITU systems will allow television with four times the detail of the first UHDTV services. The work of ITU today includes the study of techniques to produce a super wide range of contrast to the television image, bringing it closer to the real world.

The second edition of High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), Recommendation ITU-T H.265 | ISO/IEC International Standard 23008-2 approved in October 2014, includes enhanced format range extensions to improve video quality, general multi-layer support, scalability to cope with IP network congestion, and native 3D (multi-view) video encoding. The new codec will considerably ease the burden on global networks where, by some estimates, video accounts for more than half of bandwidth use. HEVC will unleash a new phase of innovation in video production spanning the whole ICT spectrum, from mobile devices through to Ultra-High Definition TV.

ITU standards also continue to examine ways to make television more accessible to those with disabilities and special needs, such as providing subtitles and audio channels describing the action in the image, as well as future options such as the capacity of the viewer to separate foreground and background sound, allowing the audio to be more intelligible to those with hearing disabilities. Audio-visual media pervades nearly every aspect of modern life and ITU’s work to improve the accessibility of TV to persons with special needs is crucial in building an inclusive Information Society.

“ITU is striving for good and efficient future use of the radio-frequency spectrum to carry television broadcasting,” said Christoph Dosch, Chairman of ITU-R Study Group 6, which deals with broadcasting issues. “In order to continue to develop new and high-performance television standards, it is critical that we retain the currently used television spectrum which provides great value to the information society.”

ITU Membership will consider the spectrum requirements for television at the next World Radiocommunication Conference in November 2015.