The BBC – reportdly the world’s largest broadcaster – is getting ready to broadcast five high-quality general-entertainment HD channels from a single DVB-T2 multiplex using Thomson Video Networks’ ViBE EM3000 encoders.

Technical trials conducted by the broadcaster in collaboration with U.S. regulator Ofcom confirmed the ViBE EM3000 “provides encoding improvements enabling the delivery of a fifth channel within DTT Multiplex B, while maintaining uncompromised picture quality on existing channels,” Thomson says.

Thomson’s ViBE EM3000 HD MPEG-2/MPEG-4 AVC encoder broadcasts HD content at bit rates as low as 4 Mb/s. With new-generation HD MPEG-2 encoding that supports double the number of MPEG-2 channels compared with older-generation encoders, Thomson says the ViBE EM3000 “helps to simplify headend infrastructure with features such as Dolby E decoding, Dolby Digital Plus and HE-AAC surround-sound encoding.”

The background: On July 22, 2011, the holder of the Multiplex B license (BBC Free to View Limited) delivered a report to Ofcom setting out its view that five HD services could be accommodated in Multiplex B before the end of 2011. Following its own technical assessment, Ofcom published a report on Sept. 5, 2011, supporting the launch of a fifth service. Ofcom also stated that broadcasters involved in Freeview have been satisfied with the test method and have confirmed that five HD channels can be broadcast on a single DVB-T2 multiplex.

The Ofcom document also notes Thomson Video Networks’ timely delivery of past and present developments, and the company’s track record of meeting schedule commitments. As a result, Ofcom sent out an invitation to apply for this fifth channel.

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