The ceremony of the Opening of the Holy Door, celebrated by Pope Francis at the Vatican on 8 December 2015, was at the time the largest event produced exclusively in UltraHD 4k and distributed worldwide live via satellite in UltraHD 4k and HD.

This paper describes the challenges faced by CTV (Centro Televisivo Vaticano) and its partners in the implementation of the UltraHD 4k production and distribution of the event to the entire world.

Several decisions and choices had to be made in the design of the technical infrastructure, while seeking to maximize the reach of the signal, ensure the most reliable transmission, and bring into play a technology that was not entirely mature at the time of the event.


The Centro Televisivo Vaticano (CTV) is the TV broadcasting centre of the Secretariat of Communication of the Holy See and its main goal is to contribute to spreading the universal message of the Pope through the production, distribution and archiving of TV material covering the activities of the Pope and the Vatican.

As part of its mission, CTV is the exclusive producer of live events and celebrations organised at the Vatican, which are in great demand by TV networks around the world. The CTV offers free access to broadcasters or editors wishing to rebroadcast its productions.

With a view to building future-proof libraries and distributing the best quality material, CTV started equipping its facilities with UltraHD 4k technology in 2015 and has recently announced having selected 4k as its preferred format for future productions.

When planning the production of the ceremony of the Opening of the Holy Door, CTV began contemplating an exclusive 4k production of the event and decided to involve its historical partners SONY, DBW, Globecast and Eutelsat which had already contributed to the production of the canonisation ceremonies of John XXIII and John Paul II in April 2014 and the beatification of Paul VI in October 2014.

The event of April 2014 was transmitted worldwide via satellite in HD and the event of October 2014 was one of the first CTV productions in UltraHD 4k.

To celebrate the Holy Door event and ensure the widest possible coverage of the ceremony, CTV and its partners decided to perform the first worldwide transmission via satellite in UltraHD 4k.