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

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