For many decades, the International Telecommunication Union, Radiocommunication Sector, Study Group 6 (ITU-R SG 6) has been leading the international standardisation of the end-to-end broadcasting chain from the production of programmes to their ultimate delivery to the audience. Its Recommendations and Reports are the key to the successful international exchange of programmes and the overall quality assessment methodologies for audiovisual content.
A fundamental responsibility is to protect spectrum and quality of service for broadcasting. Telecommunications and the Information Communication Technology (ICT) landscape are changing rapidly.
Traditional television viewers are now “consumers” of audiovisual content delivered through a growing number of platforms and reproduced on a wide variety of user “terminals”. SG 6 will continue to be the pioneer of the international standards for broadcasting services and audiovisual content applications in the global media landscape, studying emerging technologies to enable innovative new services and seeking to maintain the quality of experience that audiences have come to expect from broadcasters and content makers.
Media consumption, especially broadcast media, is an integral part of our everyday lives. Broadcasters have always been expected to provide the best service based on state-ofthe-art technologies of the time. This has ranged from early radio broadcasting in the 1920s, to black & white television, then colour, high definition (HDTV), and now the latest ultra-high definition television (UHDTV).
Reliable radio and television broadcasting provides a “point-to-everywhere” instantaneous delivery system for essential information and safety advice to the public. International standards applied to broadcasting technologies address the need for global, harmonised solutions to improve interoperability, allowing industry to innovate and therefore guaranteeing the quality of experience that the audience expects.
The ITU is the United Nations specialised agency for information and communication technologies that celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2015. Its primary roles are to allocate global radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits, develop the technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect, and strive to improve access to Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) to underserved communities worldwide.
The ITU currently has 193 member countries and almost 800 private-sector entities and academic institutions. The ITU is organised into three main areas, or “Sectors” of activity: Radiocommunications, Standardisation, and Development. The ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) aims to create the conditions for the harmonised development and efficient operation of existing and new radiocommunication systems.
Its objectives are to ensure interference-free operation, and to assure the necessary performance and quality in operating such systems. The ITU-R Study Groups develop the technical bases for decisions taken at World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRCs) and develop global standards on radiocommunication matters. Study Group 6 has responsibility for broadcasting services. This paper reports on activities and prospects of ITU-R SG 6 that aim at the sustainable development of broadcasting for the future.