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ITU: 48 Countries Meet DTV Switch Target Date

At least 48 countries have completed the transition to digital TV, the International Telecommunications Union said.

At a conference in 2006, ITU set a target date of June 17, 2015, for countries in Region 1 (Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, and the Islamic Republic of Iran) to finalize the switch.

Worldwide, including Region 1, the countries that have completed the transition are Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Rwanda, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Vatican.

That leaves 58 countries in the midst of the transition, 20 that have not started it and a whopping 71 that ITU labels "unknown."

“Today, 17 June, marks a historic landmark in the transition from analogue to digital television broadcasting,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao in a statement. “The process, which began in June 2006, has re-envisioned the way the world watches and interacts with TV and opened the way for new innovations and developments in the broadcast industry.”

He pointed out that those include interactive TV and program guides, mobile TV and HD, as well as freeing up spectrum for mobile broadband and closing the digital divide.

The U.S. completed its transition in June 2009, beaten only by Luxembourg (2006); Andorra, Finland and Sweden (2007); Switzerland and Germany (2008); and Norway (January 2009).

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.