Friday, October 15, 2010

Manila Bulletin: Cignal Boosts Digital TV Broadcasting

Cignal Digital TV is a new offering for television viewers to go digital. As the world of cable TV goes digital with the commencement of SkyCable Digiboxes, satellites or direct-to-home (DTH) services like this will now also go digital, as part of the world's migration to digital TV broadcast. Remember, there are four known media to broadcast TV signals: free-to-air or terrestrial, cable, DTH or satellite and IPTV.

Read the article after the break.
Cignal is on track to bring digital TV broadcast service to every Filipino home as it beefs up subscription packages and fortifies its channel lineup with a wider selection of digital programming and the most High Definition channels. It now offers more than 45 digital channels, including nine HD channels.
Cignal is operated by Media-Scape, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MediaQuest Holdings, Inc.
According to MediaQuest President and Chief Executive Officer Ray Espinosa, the company is focused on changing the media landscape by providing homes around the country with a 100% digital experience regardless what kind of television set they use. Cignal has 90,000 subscribers to date, most of whom are from Visayas and Mindanao. Espinosa projects the subscriber base to reach 120,000 by the end of the year, then double by next year.
“Cignal is setting the bar in TV viewing experience from analog cable to full digital,” he says. Backed by the solid business foundation of the PLDT network, the company has infused more than P1.5 billion in investments. Consumers benefit from the digital system because it offers high quality due to the absence of "snowy" images and noise.
Digital Television Broadcast is an advanced technology that is superior to analog broadcasting. It allows stations to offer improved picture and sound quality because Cignal’s head end is all digital and uses the latest state-of-the-art encoding and compression system plus audio/video processing equipment from abroad.
MediaScape’s Managing Director for Sales and Marketing, Annie Naval, says Cignal’s subscription bundles and enhanced payment options make it possible for consumers to avail of the service that best fits their budget and viewing preference. “Cignal’s subscription plans range from P250 to P1,290 monthly and subscribers have a choice between lease or straight out cash purchase of the digital kit. We have a centralized customer care system in place and now have dealerships nationwide, as well as over a million retailers for reloading or payment options.
Cignal’s programming selection spans genres from information to sports, movies, lifestyle, and children’s entertainment. “Filipino viewers turn to television for information and entertainment. TV remains one of the most accessible media and our goal is to upgrade viewing experience with the best technology available for every member of the Filipino family.” - dated 15 October 2010, 06:46 PM.
Source: Manila Bulletin

Monday, October 11, 2010

I.T. Matters: Sky Cable spending P200M to switch to digital TV broadcast

On the world of cable television, ABS-CBN's sister company, SkyCable, the leading cable operator in the country, will spend millions of pesos in digitizing the cable service in Metro Manila.
LOPEZ-LED cable television service provider Sky Cable Corp. said yesterday it would switch 80% of its Metro Manila subscribers to a digital broadcast system from analog by the end of the year. 
In a statement, Sky Cable said it had allotted 20% of its P1-billion capital expenditure for the shift to digital, with content suppliers expressing support for its new digital brand “SkyGlobal.”
A digital service will “deliver superior viewing experience while offering newfound television intelligence that makes it possible for subscribers to tailor their viewing preferences and at the same time combat cable piracy that has stunted industry growth and expansion,” said the cable service provider.
The firm said it has more than 500,000 customers nationwide.
Jacelyn Kek, senior vice-president for sales and marketing of movie channel HBO, said viewers would have the “flexibility and convenience” of selecting what they want to watch with digital technology.
“As an example, HBO-On-Demand — our subscription video on demand service running on the nowTV and StarHub platforms in Hong Kong and Singapore — is something which Sky Cable’s digital subscribers can look forward,” she said in the statement.
Jude H. Turcuato, Philippine territory director of FOX International Channels and the National Geographic Channel, said options for viewers increase when content is delivered within the “digital space.”
“They will be able to enjoy TV favorites like Glee, American Idol, and upcoming US reality hits such as MasterChef and Got to Dance in vastly superior audio-visual quality,” he said.
“As Asia’s largest [high-definition] channel provider, [Fox] is providing high-quality content across a range of popular genres, and Sky Cable’s digitization efforts means our viewers can appreciate this content in the way it was meant to be appreciated. It is enhancing the overall viewing experience of the audience through better quality viewing and greater choice and convenience,” Mr. Turcuato added.
Sky Cable already offers Select, a service that lets customers choose extra channels after subscribing to a basic cable package.
The cable provider expects to post double-digit profit growth this year due to the continued expansion of its subscriber base and the stronger peso, which decreases dollar-denominated expenses.
The number of subscribers is expected to increase by another 5% at the end of the year.
Last week, Mediaquest Holdings, Inc., owner of the Cignal digital TV broadcast service, said analog cable firms would be out of business soon as the world switches to digital platforms. -
Source: I.T. Matters

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Computerworld Philippines: 2015 deadline for digital TV shift in RP too ambitious, industry player says

The 2015 deadline set by the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) for the shutdown of analog TV transmissions in the country needs to be extended, according to a ranking executive from MediaQuest, the media investment arm of PLDT Group of Companies.
“It has to be extended for practical reasons,” cited Ray Espinosa, president and CEO of MediaQuest. “It will be hard for consumers. It’s expensive to switch now to televisions with digital reception.”
The NTC in 2007 announced the mandate for broadcasting companies to start the transition from analog transmission to digital terrestrial television services, initially opting for the adoption of European standards for digital TV.
Recent reports, however, say that the commission has opted for the Japanese standard instead, since it was cheaper to deploy in the country.
Major television networks have already signified their moves towards digital TV, investing heavily on equipment and research to reach NTC’s deadline.
Digital Cable TV
While digital television sets prove to be rather expensive, Espinosa said LCD and flat screen units are becoming cheaper in the market.
This makes Philippines a viable market for digital cable TV broadcasting, he added, as CRT television units will slowly be pushed into oblivion in the next coming years.
MediaQuest recently launched their own digital cable TV service through Cignal, which, the company claims, is the only 100% digital cable provider in the country.
100% digital, executives explained, means they do not carry analog signals at any point of the transmission, except for capturing transmissions from local terrestrial operators, who still transmit using analog signals.
“The system operates on a full digital head-end, and has a separate audio and video processing equipment,” related Annie Naval, managing director for sales and marketing, MediaScape, a subdsidiary of MediaQuest Holdings.
This enables them to broadcast higher-quality pictures via satellite, without the need for a set-top box that transforms analog signals into digital.
Cignal currently offers plans ranging from P250 to P1,290, with a choice of prepaid or postpaid subscription. Their premium digital cable TV subscription includes nine HD channels, Naval noted, on top of more than 49 standard-definition channels.
Cignal currently has a subscriber base of 90,000 in the country, with over 3,500 users in the Metro Manila area alone. - John Mark V. Tuazon, dated 7 October 2010.
Source: Computerworld Philippines