Saturday, July 11, 2009

Philippine Star: ABS-CBN brings UAAP to digital age

ABS-CBN Sports will be unveiling the very first high definition TV broadcast of a sporting event, as it test Balls HD on sister company SkyCable on Channel 166.
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine sports finally enters the digital era as ABS-CBN begins its high-definition (HD) test broadcast of the UAAP games today and NCAA games on Monday on Balls HD (SkyCable Channel 166).
According to ABS-CBN Sports head Peter Musngi, it will only be a matter of time before ABS-CBN starts airing boxing, billiards, and even non-basketball games of UAAP and the NCAA on HD.
“We’re bringing the UAAP to the digital age. With HDTV, local viewers can now experience what sports fans around the world already enjoy - wide-screen and crystal clear picture quality, fluid motion, and digital sound. HDTV is apt for sporting events and it is a perfect fit for avid sports viewers who want to see all the action,” said Musngi.
 As the first and only local network with a full HD OB van, ABS-CBN will mark the first time in Philippine television history to broadcast a locally produced program and a live event on high-definition.
Balls HD (SkyCable channel 166) will air the live telecast of the UAAP games on HD from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, while NCAA games on HD will air every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The primetime telecast of the games will be at 8 p.m. for UAAP and 10 p.m. for NCAA on the said days.
There will also be live standard broadcast coverage of the UAAP and the NCAA on Studio 23 on the same schedules. Replay of the games will follow on the same days on Balls Channel (Skycable Channel 34) on primetime beginning 8 p.m. for UAAP and 10 p.m. for NCAA.
For further inquiries on “UAAP and NCAA on HD” and “SkyCable HD,” call SkyCable at (02)631-0000. - dated 11 July 2009, 12:00 AM
Source: Philippine Star

Friday, April 24, 2009

KBP: KBP Urges NTC to Move on Digital TV Rules

The KBP is pressing the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to prioritize the drafting of the implementing rules for the transition of terrestrial television broadcasting from analogue to digital. In a letter sent to NTC Commisioner Raul Canobas last December, the KBP said that the conversion of the country’s television broadcasts to digital is a serious business concern of its members because it requires new capital outlays, re-structuring of television station operations, and new ways to address the market. In the same letter, the KBP said that it was hoping the NTC could come up with the implementing rules, after thorough consultation with the television industry, by June of 2009.

Atom Henares, chairman of the KBP Television Committee, said that it is important that the NTC already come up with the implementing rules for the transition to digital broadcasting because the networks cannot make their own plans to convert to digital broadcast unless they have a clear idea on the ground rules.
Although the NTC produced a draft of the implementing rules in 2006, and even convened two Technical Working Groups to make their recommendations, it has so far failed to adopt a final draft. The NTC reportedly could not make up its mind on what standard to adopt.
Henares said that the choice of a standard should take into account not only the technology but also the business aspect. He said issues like “will it enable the most number of Filipinos to access digital broadcast?”, “will it be viable for the broadcast companies?” should be taken into account.
Armand Ursal, KBP’s Technical Committee Chairman, who sat in both Technical Working Groups said that the private television broadcast industry and the technical staff of the NTC had recommended the European standard (DVB-T). However, there is reportedly a strong lobby for the American and Japanese standards. Most countries in the world, and all countries in Asia, except for China and Japan, have already decided in favor of the European standard. Ursal said that the widespread adoption of DVB-T ensures a very low price for the set-up box or receiver for digital television.
Another concern voiced by the KBP is how existing television operators will be treated in the transition to digital is the lack of specifics on how the frequencies for digital terrestrial service will be allocated. Under the 2007 NTC draft, channels 14 to 20 will be assigned to national digital broadcast services and channels 21 to 51 for local services. However, it is not clear whether these frequencies will be used exclusively by existing operators or if entirely new applicants for the service will be allowed. The KBP wants to make sure that no current analog TV operator is forced out of the service to accommodate new entrants. - dated March 2009.
 Source: KBP

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

ABS-CBN News: Globe buys into two broadcast firms

With the advent of PLDT-Smart and TV5's partnership in forging telecommunications and the broadcast industry, Globe Telecoms, Ayala-controlled telecommunication firm, also acquired to have its own broadcast system and getting ready to deploy and offer digital wireless cable TV service, or simple the multipoint, multichannel distribution system or MMDS via BEAM and Altimax. MMDS is almost similar to Mediaquest's Cignal Digital TV.

Read post after the jump.
It looks like the acquisition bug has also bitten Ayala-controlled Globe Telecom. 
Bethlehem Holdings Inc. (BHI), in partnership with the Globe Telecom Group of Companies, recently bought a substantial stake in Altimax Broadcasting Co. Inc. and is in the process of acquiring Broadcast Enterprises & Affiliated Media Inc. (BEAM) in its bid to offer digital wireless cable television service, sources said. 
A copy of the deed of absolute sale between BHI and Altimax was obtained by the BusinessMirror yesterday. BHI bought 7,800 shares of Altimax, representing 39 percent of the issued and outstanding capital stock of the broadcast firm. The acquisition was valued at P780,000. The contract was signed by Altimax chairman Mel Velarde and BHI chairman and director Alberto de Larrazabal. 
BHI is an investee of the Globe Group Retirement Fund (GRF) through the latter’s holding company, HALO Holdings Inc. Formed in 2007, BHI is a holding company investing in enterprises that provide broadcast content and broadcast-related services to mobile service providers. Its authorized capital stock was increased to P850 million last year. 
BHI, said a BusinessMirror source, was created so that cellular mobile phone firm Globe Telecom can offer mobile TV. The joint venture between Ayala Corp. and SingTel earlier said it is setting its sights on opportunities outside the traditional borders to create new areas of growth.
“Broadcast firms are all Filipino-owned. In order for one to offer the mobile TV service, the company should be 100-percent Filipino owned. Globe, which is not a fully Filipino-owned company, needs to partner with a broadcasting firm before it can go into mobile TV or any similar service involving broadcast,” said the source. “That vehicle is now BHI,” explained the source. 
Mobile TV is a broadcast service that delivers content to many viewers simultaneously through the digital TV broadcast signal for mobile devices—similar to how a conventional TV service delivers TV signal to homes. 
Globe president Gerardo Ablaza declined to comment. But in previous occasions, he was quoted as saying that the cellular firm is interested in exploring “very seriously” mobile TV and prospects for that was “reasonable.” 
Globe was earlier engaged in talks with Philippine Multi-Media System Inc. (PMSI), operator of Dream Satellite TV, for a possible equity deal but negotiations did not push through because the Direct-to-Home (DTH)-licensed firm declared bankruptcy. 
“We have to look for partners that can broadcast and provide content. The problem with mobile TV service is that there are so many moving pieces; there are so many components that we have to look. We continue to be in discussions with possible partners and that includes content providers and broadcast,” Globe chief finance officer Delfin Gonzalez said in an earlier interview.
The contract also states that Altimax is no longer operational and its provisional authorities to operate various broadcasting services were no longer renewed by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) due the nonutilization of frequencies. 
“Altimax is currently engaged in many lawsuits, including with the NTC. These cases are expected to be dropped soon especially now that Globe lawyers are the ones taking over some of the cases already,” added the source. 
A check with the NTC showed that Altimax has informed the agency in a filing late Monday that the company would now be represented by Salalima Gonzales Castelo & Ungos law firm. These lawyers were also named as co-counsel for Altimax. 
With BHI as its new investor, Altimax is asking the NTC to restore its permit to operate Multi-Channel Multipoint Distribution System (MMDS) service, which is actually a pay-TV service. 
It also wants the NTC to restore its frequencies. According to Altimax, the frequencies assigned to it translate to about eight standard 6 Megahertz (MHz) NTSC TV broadcast channels in analogue mode, and up to 32 TV broadcast channels in digital mode. 
“In order to capitalize on the availability of MMDS set top boxes commonly used in the US market, Altimax and BEAM can use hybrid mode in order to deliver digital wireless cable TV. This will be a significant improvement over analogue signals delivered to the market today,” said Altimax. 
It added that commercial arrangements with the Globe Group facilitated by entry of BHI will enable delivery of converged broadband over MMDS. 
Further, the Altimax-BEAM alliance can deliver Direct to User (DTU) wireless cable TV to their combined clientele. “Again, both firms shall be able to bank on merged resources for the development and implementation of a sound DTU service proposition. This will promote the roll-out of DTU in unserved areas of the country,” added Altimax. 
Altimax, it added, can leverage on Globe’s pervasive sales and distribution network. “The BHI-Globe-BEAM alliance brings to the fore more marketing and technical expertise, infrastructure and technology, experience, manpower and financial stability to Altimax. - Lenie Lectura, Business Mirror, dated 18 February 2009, 02:37 AM.
Source: ABS-CBN News