Starting early next year, ORF plans to broadcast in 5.1 surround sound not just feature films but original material including live events, concerts, TV documentaries and drama. The broadcaster has already been producing material in 5.1 for the last two years, mainly for DVD release but also in preparation for multichannel broadcasts.
Commercial broadcasters such as BSkyB, Premiere, ProSieben and Teleclub already offer 5.1 services but these are primarily based around feature films.
ORF technical director Andreas Gall cited the success of DVD as one of the main reasons for introducing 5.1 programming. 'More and more households have DVD players these days,' he said. 'This means there has been a tremendous growth in households with Dolby Digital home cinema systems and an expectation for more surround sound programming. ORF wants to meet that demand with exciting, innovative TV programmes that make full use of those surround systems.'
ORF transmits 13 radio and two main TV channels, ORF1 and ORF2, plus nine regional TV channels. All are available on terrestrial and satellite. Digital satellite viewers will be able to receive 5.1 transmissions on ORF1 and ORF2 from early next year.