Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Business Mirror: NTC not likely to meet June target to set digital TV rules

Well, we've been expecting this one, since the Big 3 supports for a standard review. Still, NTC finished the IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations) but they just lack one thing, the standard to impose. Remember, any TV network cannot start the digital terrestrial television service when the IRR is still not official.

Read the article after the break.
THE National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is not likely to meet the end-June target in issuing the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the country’s transition to digital broadcasting.    

In an office order issued by NTC chief Gamaliel Cordoba dated May 26, the agency tasked the technical committee to re-evaluate the standards for the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) broadcast service even as it earlier opted to adopt Japan’s Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting (ISDB) standard. However, no agreement has been signed yet between the Philippine government and Japan.

“In light of the recent developments in digital television broadcasting, a technical committee is hereby created for the purpose of re-evaluating the standards for DTT. The committee shall be tasked to look into the latest developments in DTT service, to include the emergence of second-generation standards and an update on the prevailing market price of DTT set-top boxes, among others,” the order stated.

The NTC was referring to the second-generation Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB2) from Europe which other broadcasting firms, including GMA Network, are supporting.

The committee was ordered to submit a report of its findings on or before June 30. Incidentally, the NTC was earlier targeting June for the release of the said IRRs. Without the rules, industry players cannot fully start the shift to digital TV.

“The IRRs [are] almost done. We just have to indicate in the IRRs the technology that we will adopt. Of course, we can’t issue the rules yet if we haven’t fully decided yet on the technology but the technical aspects are almost done already,” he said in an interview.

Once the review on the possible shift to the European platform is concluded this month, Cordoba said the issuance of the IRRs will come in next. “Probably, everything will be okay by July,” he said.

DVB2 has been touted by industry players as superior to Japan’s ISDB. “GMA [Network] has been vocal in saying that it prefers the second-generation DVB. TV5 also wrote us stating its support for the review. We think that it’s best to explore everything before we decide,” added the NTC commissioner.

The technical committee is chaired by NTC deputy commissioner Jose Martinez. The members are composed of representatives from the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), Commission on Information and Communications Technology, NTC, ABC Development Corp., ABS-CBN Corp., Aliw Broadcasting Corp., Broadcast Enterprises and Affiliated Media, Inc., Christian Era Broadcasting Service, Inc., Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer Protection, Eagle Broadcasting Corp. and Zoe Broadcasting Network Inc.

Last month, the television committee of the KBP urged the NTC not to delay the issuance of the IRRs. 

For now, industry players are preparing for the new technology but “they will need the ground rules before they can convert to digital broadcast,” said Atom Henares, committee chairman. “The shift to digital will not only give Filipinos a better viewing experience with superior clarity in image and sound, but also more choices on free-to-air TV.”
Households not connected to any cable TV subscription (also called free TV) comprise 90 percent of the total 17 million in the country. With digital TV, each existing TV frequency in the country will be able to air up to eight free-TV channels each. This means the country could have a total of 176 channels from the existing 22 free TV frequencies.

The NTC is eyeing the implementation of digital television service, starting with select key cities in the country, by 2012. The regulator wants the shift to be implemented it in phases, the same way Japan imposed the change, NTC deputy commissioner Carlo Jose Martinez said.

Japan ’s ISDB-T platform is expected to provide more business opportunities because the bandwidth that will be assigned for digital TV can also be used to service mobile phones. The technology is also capable of sending emergency warning broadcasts to households. - Lenie Lectura, dated 08 June 2011, 06:40 PM.
Source: Business Mirror

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