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