3D’s Eastern Promise

Just this week we have seen Russia’s General Satellite enter into a landmark agreement with Eutelsat to provide the satellite operator’s All-3D channel with up to 500 hours of content. The first transmission, of a classical ballet performance from St Petersburg, followed shortly afterwards.

Meanwhile in Romania, ANACOM has given CME-backed Pro TV, the country’s leading commercial broadcaster, the go ahead to undertake 3D trials. Furthermore, it has been projected that 3,000 3D TVs will be sold in the country this year, with Panasonic accounting for a third of the total.

In Poland, Canal+ is preparing what will be the country’s first 3D transmission. Set for May 15, it will feature one of three matches from the Ekstraklasa (Polish premier football league) being played on that date and be accessible not only in public showings but also to individual Cyfra+ viewers with a HD receiver and 3D TV set. The screening will be organised jointly with Eutelsat and LG Electronics and should establish Canal+ as the driving force for the introduction of 3D services in Poland.

Late last year it aired the country’s first 3D commercial in cinemas, and it is also a partner in Projekt Chopin, Europe’s biggest animated production of 2009 and the first film project in Poland using 3D. Developed by BreakThru Films and listing the Polish public broadcaster TVP as another partner in its production, Projekt Chopin will be released in cinemas in August/September this year. There will also be 24 short film etudes developed for distribution via IPTV and mobile phones, as well as downloadable over the internet.

Although 3D TV is also being discussed in several other Central and East European countries, these are still early days. There has been much talk in the Czech Republic, for instance, about the recent appearance of 3D TVs in the shops. Any enthusiasm has nevertheless been tempered by the lack of content and admissions of the country’s leading broadcasters that they at present have no plans to offer services in the format.

On the other hand, both UPC Czech and Telefónica O2 have said they are technologically ready to do so. Yet they, too, concede that they will first require sufficient content.

Given the speed with which HD is now being rolled out throughout Central and Eastern Europe, the prospects for 3D in the region, once it, too, becomes available, are likely to be extremely good.

By Chris Dziadul, Broadband TV News