Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Business World: NTC to finalize digital TV broadcast standard by June

Well it is for the NTC to decide which digital TV standard is going to suit the needs of every Filipino viewer, expect the rules to set on the end of June 2011.

THE NATIONAL Telecommunications Commission (NTC) hopes to finalize by end-June a review on which digital television standard to adopt, its top official said yesterday.

"The review is ongoing and we’re hoping to complete it in one and a half months from today," Commissioner Gamaliel A. Cordoba said in a telephone interview.

In June last year, NTC, following unanimous industry support, decided to adopt the Japanese Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) standard as the country’s digital television platform over the European Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) technology.

However, in March this year, the House Committee on Information and Communication Technology encouraged a review of which standard to adopt, since the upgraded European standard (DVB-2) was not considered last year.

"So the outcome will be either we stick to the Japanese standard or we will adopt the new European standard," Mr. Cordoba said.

Despite admitting a "slow rate" in the country’s shift to digital TV, GMA Network, Inc. supports the review of which standard to adopt, Felipe L. Gozon, chairman and chief executive officer, told reporters yesterday.
"Yes, [we support the review] because we only want the best standard [for the country]...that’s a long-term decision that will affect not only the present but the future operation," he said after his firm’s annual stockholders meeting.

"[The shift to digital TV] is very slow [but] even in the US and in other countries, it took them some time before they were able to convert," Mr. Gozon said.

Mr. Gozon said that the firm is waiting for NTC’s decision on which standard to adopt as the broadcaster cannot, at present, roll out plans without it.

Already, the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the country’s switch to digital television is eyed to be finished within the month, or next month at the latest, Mr. Cordoba said.

The government is aiming to complete the shift to digital TV by 2015.

After NTC issues the IRR and decides on which digital TV standard to adopt, broadcasting firms can start rolling out the digital signals alongside analog signals.

The 2015 target, however, may be moved as deemed by the broadcasting firms and consumers, Mr. Cordoba said.

"We could say that it is a moving target. The shift to digital TV will require a lot of investments from firms and it will also depend on how fast the public can adopt," Mr. Cordoba said.

The decision last year to adopt the ISDB-T standard was reached in a meeting of stakeholders from the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, GMA Network , ABS-CBN Corp., RPN Channel 9, and Vanguard Radio Network Co., Inc., among others.

In June last year, representatives from the Japanese embassy and NTC officials signed a memorandum of cooperation. Japanese makers of the set-top boxes required for non-digital TV sets were said to have committed to build a manufacturing plant in the Philippines to help cut prices.

Aside from Japan, the ISDB-T has been widely adopted in South America.

In 2006, the industry regulator released a memorandum saying the country would be using the European standard DVB for digital television.

The NTC later deferred this, saying more consultations were needed. - Kathleen A. Martin, dated 18 May 2011, 10:31 PM
Source: Business World

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