Friday, June 10, 2011

Malaya: The long wait for digital TV

Television networks are ready to provide viewers without cable connections the wonders of digital television, but they cannot roll out the new service because the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has yet to come up with the rules on digital transmission.

Atom Henares, chairman of the KBP Television Committee, 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 (DTT)," 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 currently have in terms of programs and content, he said.

Another significant feature of DTT is its data broadcast capability and interactivity, which allow immediate data transmission to all DTT users. This is particularly helpful in emergencies.

The urgent need to migrate to digital broadcasting is being pushed by non-KBP member broadcast networks as well.

Engineer Antonio M. Leduna, chief technology officer of National Broadcasting Network, said: "If we keep delaying the release of implementing rules and regulations (IRR) just because a new standard (is being readied), we will be left out. Technology is always evolving non-stop. We need to address the needs of the Filipinos now."

Henares said: "It is important for NTC to come out with the IRR because we are all trying to meet the deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)."

ITU is the global body mandating countries to adopt a new digital TV standard. Countries like United States and Japan took almost 10 years to fully roll out digital broadcasting.

The IRR is expected to be finalized this month.

Gamaliel Cordoba, NTC commissioner, however said the release could be delayed after Malacañang ordered a review of the technology to be adopted.

A technical working group composed of stakeholders in the television broadcast industry, including the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), National Economic and Development Authority and Department of Trade and Industry, are comparing a new European technology to the Japanese standard proposed by the NTC.

NTC chose Japan’s Integrated Services Digital Broadcast-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) but before the contract could be signed Malacañang ordered the review. – Myla Iglesias, dated 10 June 2011.

Source: Malaya

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