Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Malaya: Europeans seek to wrest digital TV deal from Japan

A team from Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB), backed by the European Union delegation to the Philippines, met with officials of the National Telecommunications yesterday to pitch for the adoption of the digital TV standard DBT-2 instead of Japan’s ISDB-T (Integrated Services Digital Broadcast-Terrestrial). 
The DVB team claimed DBT-2 is the world’s most advanced technology and comes at an affordable price. 
The NTC last year signed a memorandum of agreement with Japanese developers to make ISDB-T the country’s standard in shifting to digital television, but the deal was put on hold recently by Malacañang to allow an evaluation of DBT-2. 
Whoever wins the fight for digital TV standard stands to gain royalty payments for every set of television using the technology. 
Japanese providers, however, said the royalties they will charge is minimal. It is more of national pride arising from global use that is at stake, they said. 
The shift to digital TV is scheduled to start this year, with the implementing rules due this month. But with the Palace directive to accommodate the Europeans’ wish to evaluate DBT-2, the shift is expected to be delayed. 
The country’s three broadcast firms are ready to migrate to digital terrestrial television anytime. GMA network said it would spend up to P600 million for the migration and ABS-CBN about P1 billion. TV5 has yet to disclose its investment on digital TV. 
Ray Espinosa, ABC Broadcasting Corp. president, said the station’s technology is "neutral" on whatever system is eventually adopted. A more serious concern, he said, are the consumers who will have to pay for the set-top boxes. 
"We have to think of the consumers, because television is public service. They have to take into account the consumers," Espinosa said. 
During the meeting with the NTC and a technical working group (TWG) yesterday, the EU asked for a sound and transparent review process, allowing all stakeholders to ask questions and to receive detailed information on standards available, including DVB-T2. 
The EU expressed its surprise that the TWG has not taken the initiative of organizing a hearing with DVB representatives. 
The EU suggested that broadcasters be given the opportunity to try DVB-T2 and compare its performance with the Japanese standard. 
The EU representatives formally asked the TWG to extend the deadline of the review process. 
In an earlier interview, Motohiko Kato, deputy and chief of mission of the Japanese embassy, said the Japanese standard is more advantageous than the European standard. 
Among the advantages, he said, are the efficient frequency utilization and mobile TV services, emergency warning broadcasting system, cheap prices of set-top box, wider coverage area and clear image. The royalty is also free, Kato said. 
He explained that once the Japanese standard is finally chosen, it will be easier for the broadcast firms to roll out mobile television services using the same transmitter as in digital TV, unlike with the European system where the broadcast network would need to set up another transmitter for mobile TV. 
Mobile TV services are expected to become a huge potential business opportunity for the telecom and broadcast firms. "Mobile is a huge potential to create a lot of new business and services," Kato added. 
The proposed price of a set-up box is pegged at $10 under the Japanese system. Kato said the price is expected to become even lower when demand for the product is high and there’s a lot of competition in the market. 
Kato added that the Japanese system coverage is 20 percent better than the European. Among the countries using the Japan system are Uruguay, Bolivia, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, and Brazil. 
But globally, the European system is more widely used. It is used by more than 120 countries, of which 21 are European. In Asia, those using the European system include Sri Lanka, India and Taiwan. 
Atom Henares, chairman of the KBP Television Committee, earlier said digital television not only provides viewers with better image quality and clearer sound, but also allows for more content through more channels. This leads to bigger variety and more options for the viewers. 
"The majority of our households don’t have cable subscriptions, which confines their viewing experience to up to only 22 channels compared with up to 176 channels in digital terrestrial television," Henares said. 
Of the 22 channels, only three are being watched by approximately 80 percent of the market who do not subscribe to cable. This is clear proof of the limited choice viewers have in terms of programs and content, he said. 
Another significant feature of digital TV is its data broadcast capability and interactivity, which allow immediate data transmission to all users. This is particularly helpful in emergencies. - Irma Isip, dated 28 June 2011
Source: Malaya

No comments: