Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Newsbytes: ABS-CBN hits NTC indecision on digital TV standard

Even as it starts its campaign to gain an early foothold in the digital TV (DTV) space, broadcasting giant ABS-CBN has criticized the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for sending mixed signals on the country’s official DTV standard.
The Lopez-owned TV station, as quoted by The Manila Times in a report on Tuesday, warned that the NTC’s seeming inability to uphold its earlier decision to adopt the Japanese DTV standard would cause unnecessary delay in the rollout of DTV in the country.
Last year, the NTC formally ushered in the DTV era in the country when it issued a circular adopting the Japanese DTV standard or the Integrated Services Digital Broadcast-Terrestrial (ISDB-T). The circular was passed during a consultation hearing attended by industry stakeholders.
But, recent reports have indicated that the regulatory agency is keen on giving a second look at the European DTV platform or European Digital Video Broadcast-Terrestial (DVB-T), whose newer version is reportedly better than the Japanese platform.
Miguel Mercado, marketing head of ABS-CBN DTV, was quoted in The Manila Times story saying that the company is “ready to deploy [its DTV strategy] regardless of the standard”.
But sources have indicated that the network has already invested on Japanese DTV standard, which included the “Digibox” that it announced in Tuesday’s press event.
The unit, which analog TV users must use to receive digital signals, was purportedly launched three months in advance to pressure the NTC into sticking with the Japanese platform.
ABS-CBN said the Digibox may be available in malls and retail stores by June – the date it expects the NTC to give the go-signal on its DTV application.
Main rival GMA-7, which is said to be favoring the European DTV standard, has been reported to have filed an opposition to ABS-CBN’s DTV application at the NTC.
As a way to spur interest in its Digibox, ABS-CBN said five new digital channels will be accessible through the unit, which will have a one-time cost of about P1,000 to P3,000.
The move, if eventually allowed by the NTC, effectively adds another dimension to ABS-CBN – as a reseller of digital conversion boxes, a function that is more familiar to its sister company SkyCable.
According to a statement by ABS-CBN, the Digibox will serve as the gateway to the new digital channels that the company has developed to cater to preferences of different market segments.
“The new channels to be made available include two channels for kids, a channel for the youth, a channel for dads and a channel for moms,” the TV station said.
“Viewers will also get to enjoy five new channels for free. These are in addition to getting all existing channels that will be broadcasting in digital, which upon our launch, will include Channel 2, Studio 23, GEM TV and NBN. Once the NTC gives a go signal we are sure that the other stations will be ready to broadcast their current channels on DTV as well,” the statement quoted Mercado as saying.
The statement said ABS-CBN has been laying the groundwork for the new technology since 2007. The network’s DTV system in place and is prepared to rollout within the second half of the year, it added.
ABS-CBN said it has recently conducted DTV trials in more than 1,000 households all over the Philippines.
Some of the countries that have adopted DTV include the US, China, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, and Denmark. - dated 5 April 2011, 11:46 PM.
Source: Newsbytes Philippines

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