The Aquino (Part II) administration is taking its sweet time in deciding when this country should start the program for “digital” broadcast—for both the radio and television.
From what I gathered, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) already has a draft of the implementing rules of the program.
Our sources in the industry tell us that the NTC is only waiting for the go-signal from Malacañang to release the rules and start digital broadcasting in the country. But not yet!
It seems that Malacañang, particularly our leader Benigno Simeon (a.k.a. BS), still wants the broadcast industry, particularly the TV stations, to change their stand on one particular aspect of the program: the all-important “standard.”
The local TV stations already narrowed down the choices to two standards: the Japanese standard (technically known as ISDB-T) and the European standard (or DVB-T2).
As a group, at least as represented by the KBP, or the Kipisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, the industry already decided to adopt the Japanese standard.
Malacañang, however, called the industry leaders to a meeting, with BS himself telling them to reconsider their position.
From all indications, the Aquino (Part II) administration wants to force the European standard on the broadcast industry. In the process, the digital program gets delayed. Much delayed! In fact, it has been six years in the making now.
* * *
Now what is in the digital program (versus the current “analog”) for us—the consumers, radio listeners, TV viewers, the almost hundred million people in this country?
Digital broadcast is much better than the current system called “analog,” and this goes for everybody—meaning, the government, broadcast industry and the public.
Analog broadcast is basically radio broadcast—i.e. FM and AM. In analog TV, the video is transmitted in AM, and the audio, in FM. Thus the broadcast falls prey to all sorts of interference.
In comparison, digital TV is transmitted as data bits—i.e. computer data. It is the same system for your music CD or movie DVD.
Digital TV benefits the consumers because it makes the reception much clearer, not to mention the wide array of programs that the public can get in digital TV.
When they switch to digital, the TV stations can air several programs at the same time, even while they are using their current bandwidth.
You can imagine the impact of digital TV on the programming of the networks. They can now offer different shows for the young and the old, either men or women, even considering the market segmentation from class A to class E. At least we do not have to suffer all those soap operas.
For the business community, therefore, because of the multiple programming options of the networks, advertising rates are bound to go down, more affordable at least to a lot of medium size enterprises that, at present, cannot afford the prohibitive ad rates of the TV networks.
As for the government, digital TV is bound to free up frequencies that the NTC can bid out to the broadcast industry. Yes, the government can still make a lot of money from the digital program.
In short, digital TV is good.
* * *
Here is the thing: the consumers must have TV sets capable of receiving the digital broadcast, through a special gadget called “set-top boxes,” or STB.
It is true that the investments of TV stations will be higher in the Japanese standard than the European, not to mention the savings in electricity cost, because the European standard consumes less electricity than the Japanese.
But as the KBP pointed out in its position paper submitted to the NTC, the European standard is a “proprietary” system, meaning, that the TV stations must pay “royalty” to the developers of the European standard.
The “royalty” also applies to the STB—the boxes in your homes.
Thus, aside from the TV networks having to spend truckloads of money to go digital, the program also entails cost to the viewing public.
In its position paper, the KBP recommended the adoption of the Japanese standard mainly because it was the most affordable standard for the Filipino consumers.
The Japanese government itself pushed for the adoption of this standard in the Philippines, promising that Japanese companies would build STB manufacturing plants in the Philippines.
KBP took it to mean that the cost of STB would drop significantly. The KBP estimated that the difference in the STB price, between the European and the Japanese standards, would amount to about $20 per box.
Source: InquirerThat, to the guys down here in my barangay, is quiet a lot of money. - Conrado R. Banal III, dated 10 August 2011, 09:27 PM.