French TV is about to change: What you need to know

The Local France
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French TV is about to change: What you need to know
Photo: AFP

Are you ready for this evening’s Great Digital Terrestrial Television Takeover in France? No, aliens aren’t coming to steal your TV. It's just going to get a major upgrade.


Tellies in France are making the transition to High Definition. For viewers, this is good news: it means a clearer picture and better sound.

So if you happen to be watching TV in France in the very early hours of Tuesday morning, don’t be alarmed when all 1,600 transmissions come to a halt for a few hours. 

But how does it work exactly? What will be different? What do you need to do to prepare?

Read on for all you need to know about the big switch. 

What’s going to happen?

During the night of April 4th, households with a TV will receive all 25 DTT (Digital terrestrial television) channels in HD, at no extra cost.

If you're trying to watch a show in the wee hours of the morning, you'll just see a black screen. Although everything should be back to normal early on Tuesday morning, some viewers will need to allow a scan to save the new location settings.

An announcement of the upcoming switch. Photo: AFP

What will change?

The 25 TNT channels will now be available to everyone for free in crisp high-definition.

Up until now, four channels have been broadcast in Standard Definition as well as HD (TF1, France 2, M6, Arte), six are shown only in HD (HD1, L’Equipe 21, 6ter, Numéro 23, RMC Découverte, Cherie 25) and the 15 remaining channels only in Standard Definition. As far as paying channels, Canal + Cinéma, Canal + Sport and Planete + will also be switching to HD. 

As an added bonus, LCI will become a free channel.

What do I need to do?

If you have TNT via a internet box or by cable then the switch will be automatic and there's no need to worry, but if you have the old TV aerial then you'll need to buy separate equipment.

For low-income families, assistance is available up to €25, as well as home help for the elderly and disabled. Assistance of up to €250 is available for help with reception, in case you are unable to receive channels after April 5th.

Why the switch?

Apart from better image quality, TNT HD compresses the television signal in order to free up space in 4G networks for cell phones. The state sold these frequencies to the phone companies in November of 2015 for €2.8 billion.


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