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ITU Issues Recommendations on Ultra-HD Standard

In an important development in the creation of standards for the next generation of higher resolution video, the International Telecommunication Union's Radiocommunication Sector's (ITU-R) Study Group 6 has agreed on a draft of a new recommendation on the technical details for 'Ultra High Definition Television' or UHDTV. The draft has now been submitted for approval.

Ultra-HD TV systems are years away from being widely deployed, but they would mark a massive improvement in picture quality that ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Touré described in a statement as "an earth-shaking development in the world of television."

The ITU-R recommendation lays out two levels of quality for UHDTV, both of which offer significantly higher resolution than the current HD standards.

HDTV pictures today have the equivalent of between 1 megapixel and 2 megapixels. In contrast, the first level of UHDTV picture levels will have the equivalent of about 8 megapixels based on a 3,840 x 2,160 image system. Beyond that, the ITU recommendation also deals with an even higher level that has the equivalent of about 32 megapixels using a 7,680 x 4,320 image system.

These two levels are often referred to as 4K and 8K.

David Wood, chairman of ITU-R Working Party 6C (WP 6C), which developed the draft new recommendation, noted in a statement that "some years will pass before we see these systems in our homes" but that the move towards a standard is "a historic moment."

Co-chair of the Study Group 6 Christoph Dosch also noted in a statement that the new recommendation "means that organizations around the world can safely begin work to make UHDTV a reality."

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) are already looking into adding ultra-HD standards into their next generation for digital broadcasting, ATSC 3.0. The formulation of an ITU standard would help them and other groups around the world begin to incorporate ultra-HD features into their standards for digital broadcasts.

"The world and technology moves on," said Dick Wiley, chairman, Wiley Rein, who was instrumental in the transition to HDTV in the U.S. as chairman of the FCC's Advisory Committee on Advanced Television Service in an statement sent to B&C. "And I am confident that the U.S. will be in the forefront of future video advances."

A video on UHDTV development is at