MANILA, Philippines — ABS-CBN Corp. is prepared to spend P3 billion to P5 billion on a nationwide rollout of digital TV, one of its priority programs starting next year.
“We made some tests already. We are ready to roll out,” ABS-CBN chief finance officer Rolando Valdueza told reporters following an analysts’ briefing.
A nationwide implementation of digital TV would need as much as P5 billion over five years, he said, adding that the budget for the initial rollout next year was “at least P1 billion.”
This would be enough to launch digital TV in selected areas outside Metro Manila where ABS-CBN has signal problems.
Digital TV is designed to deliver improved image and sound quality and more programming options to viewers. As such, ABS-CBN expects the system would boost ratings, particularly by addressing signal problems.
ABS-CBN found out that when it enjoyed the same signal strength as other networks in a given area, ABS-CBN tended to top the ratings in that area, Valdueza said.
User take-up will guide ABS-CBN on how aggressively it would expand the rollout.
“I think five years would be [enough]. But if the initial launch is successful enough, we can implement the program more aggressively. The five years may become just two to three years,” Valdueza said.
The budget includes provisions for set top boxes, which users of analog TV sets need in order to enjoy digital TV programming.
ABS-CBN’s digital TV system will be based on Japanese technology, which is the technology endorsed by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
GMA Network Inc. and PLDT-owned Associated Broadcasting Corp. (TV5) also favor the Japanese platform.
The networks are waiting for the NTC to issue the implementing rules and regulations for DTT, or digital television-terrestrial, services before finally rolling out their respective digital TV programs.
Source: InquirerAnalysts said that digital TV could be the next battleground in the ratings war between established and emerging television networks as more options open up for advertisers. - Riza T. Olchondra, dated 14 November 2010, 11:07 PM.