A month ago, we were invited by the ABS-CBN DTT Department for their media conference to highlight the network’s test broadcast on selected households at Pampanga. We regret to join the mediacon since we’ve been busy those days but we’re able to catch up with the hype as the network sent us a PR on the same day. Sadly, it’s been better if we joined the club to witness how ABS-CBN trialled their DTT primer outside the Metro with the use of our gadgets and devices which are DTV-capable.
ABS-CBN didn’t gave up on inviting for us to behold what they’ve doing these days in carrying out tests while the government still hasn’t releasing yet the rules for DTT migration. Days after the mediacon, we’ve been invited for a lunch meeting with them, to discuss some matters.
For us, it’s been a pleasure to be invited and yet we’ve been very lucky with ABS-CBN within the first year run of DTV Pilipinas, since we’ve done an interview for ANC’s Future Perfect episode last April and then this. Getting packed up; we’ve compiled some of the queries from our followers on Facebook and Twitter to build some rapport.
Sadly, too much excitement hangs us up; we got 30 minutes late on the said meeting. Sorry and thanks to them, we were still warmly welcomed by two of the department’s men, Sir John and Sir JP. Sir John was the one who called us up and invite us for the mediacon; he’s very glad about how we take in-charge the DTV Pilipinas community, along with Sir JP. They are under Sir Miguel Mercado’s unit, the man behind the ABS-CBN DTV Marketing Management.
We were at the Restaurant 9501 at the ELJCC Bldg. for our lunch meeting. The food was great; though we almost think about how pricey they are. After the tasty food experience, they’ve showed us the mediacon’s presentation.
ABS-CBN has been testing their digital terrestrial television (DTT) service since August in the general Central Luzon Area. For the past 5 years of intensive research, ABS-CBN has come up to embrace the ISDB-T platform. The service is mostly prior to the receiver’s cost since trials were established within Class D-E households.
Integrated Services Digital Broadcast – Terrestrial, or ISDB-T, is Japan’s digital TV standard which is capable of transmitting up to 8 channels per frequency. With the advent of the new DTT standard – the European’s second generation Digital Video Broadcast – Terrestrial or DVB-T2 – ISDB-T still overpowers DVB-T2 when it comes to commerciality of the receiver. DVB-T2, on the other hand, is capable of beaming 14 channels per frequency, which is too much for the Philippines’ free TV landscape. Besides, roughly few networks are only capable of offering multiple programming to viewers. Receivers are priced at approximately P 2,500 for ISDB-T compared to an approximately P5, 000 for a DVB-T2 set top box.
Last August, the National Telecommunications Commission finally decided to go with ISDB-T, as well as recommended by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas or KBP. Though the standard needs to be officially adopted and rules should be issued among broadcasters, ABS-CBN is very ready to deploy its DTT service especially throughout the areas where the signals are very weak.
Aside from those facts, some were too intimate to talk about now. After the short presentation, a short yet informative AVP was also showed to us. Then afterwards, we went on with a roundtable discussion of our queries.
DTVPH: Our first question is [from Bryan Carmona and Nico Castro] may specific date na po ba ang ABS-CBN for DTT?
ABS-CBN DTV is just waiting for the IRR from the government. Once that comes out, we’ll be ready to commercially launch.
DTVPH: Bakit hindi ginawa ng katulad sa GEM na kahit yung Channel 2 at Studio 23, may trial broadcast sa Metro?
ABS-CBN is already doing its test broadcast in Pampanga and Bulacan. We’ve also powered up our transmitter here in the Metro area covering certain portions of Q.C.
DTVPH: About naman po sa sub-channels. [From Mikki Eugenio] anong difference sa programming between those [digital] free TV channels sa cable channels.
There will be some channels which will be different from that of the cable channels and there will be channels that will remain the same. You’ll get to see and better appreciate these in more detail once we commercially launch our channels.
DTVPH: May nakita akong video sa YouTube na, former name niya ay SineBox. Bakit po naging CineMo?
The channel underwent extensive marketing research and this is the current name we have for the channel.
DTVPH: Does CineMo contain mixed contents, for example, Tagalog and English movies?
Yes, the channel will have mixed content but will be more dominant in Filipino movies.
DTVPH: There are a lot of fans who are eyeing for not only English, but for Asian movies.
This is something that we’re very much aware of and we are exploring how we’ll address this.
DTVPH: Will these channels [be running] 24/7?
Not all channels will be running for 24 hours. Some will run close to 20 hours a day.
DTVPH: Pwede rin po kasi yung salitan with ANC so there will be a balance mix [of news programming]
Right now, we’re sticking with our plan to solely air our news channel for ABS-CBN DTV. The inclusion of ANC is something that we can definitely explore in the future.
DTVPH: About again sa 24/7, for DZMM, we all want all-around news, from day and night. Kung may sign-on/sign-off siya...
Again, we’re following the programming schedule our selected news channel. We recognize however this demand from the market and this is something we can explore in the future.
DTVPH: For Yey, the programming will be mixed Japanese and Western. Pero nung nakita nila na parang maglalagay ng live action kids program, medyo nagkaroon ng concern ng konti. So paano po ang magiging programming ng Yey?
ABS-CBN DTV’s all-day animation channel is set to show cartoons which is the majority of the channel’s content. Yes, it will include some live action content but we will continue to address the needs kids market. More of the programming details will be revealed once we launch.
DTVPH: So how about asking [from Mikki Eugenio] bakit walang sports sub-channel? Will it be renegated to Studio 23?
ABS-CBN is already taking care of the Filipino people’s sports needs by showing these on Channel 2 and Studio 23. For example, we showed last season’s NBA Finals early this year on Channel 2. We felt that a sports channel is not needed at this point but this is an option we can explore in the future.
DTVPH: [From Nene Rb] Is the DTV Digibox now available?
As mentioned earlier, the box is not yet available for commercial release due to the pending IRR from the government. We have selected test broadcast communities however with households already using a test version of the box.
DTVPH: About naman po sa DTV Digibox [from Rom Marquez] ano daw po ang ibang features ng DTV Digibox?
The ABS-CBN DTV box has the capability to receive digital transmission and can be connected to any TV. This will give the consumer digital clear picture and sound plus 5 additional premium channels.
DTVPH: Nagiging misconception kasi for DTV Digibox is it will be like SkyCable's Digibox, parang will it have yung mga function na recording, ganun?
No, the ABS-CBN DTV box will not be capable of recording as it is a different box from that of Sky Cable’s.
DTVPH: The final cost of the box…
The commercial cost of the box is P2,500 with no monthly fee needed.
DTVPH: We've seen the report on TV Patrol and Bandila, we have observed that there is no HDMI port on the box; will ABS-CBN release an HD version of the box for consumers who have LCD TVs?
The current box cannot support HD. As for future versions, this is something we can definitely explore.
DTVPH: Pero generally, [from Karl Aguilar] does ABS-CBN have plans on going HD?
ABS-CBN going HD is definitely something we can explore doing in the future.
DTVPH: Iniisip po namin kung ire-renegade or ilalagay na lang ang ABS-CBN HD sa SkyCable.
This is something we can consider and explore in the future.
DTVPH: But it can decode HD signal right? For example GEM HD.
That’s right, the box can decode HD but the output of GEM TV is still SD. This is so because our box does not have an HDMI port.
DTVPH: Pag nag-release din po yung ibang network ng boxes nila, will it affect your market?
Yes, in effect if the other networks release their own box, depending on certain specs and offerings, these will most likely be in direct competition in our box.
DTVPH: In the United Kingdom and New Zealand they have this thing called Freeview, parang collaboration ito ng lahat ng channels. Bakit hindi po ganun ang gawin niyo?
The reason why the collaboration happened is the governments in these respective countries mandated that all channel providers will give their content to one box supplier. Here in the Philippines, it’s a different case.
DTVPH: So parang in the end, sa government, sa IRR pa rin manggagaling [yung rules]?
Yes, on top on what DTT system to use, the IRR will dictate all the rules for the digital migration of the country.
DTVPH: Kung magkakaroon din po ng Freeview na for example, si kabila, maglalabas din ng premium channels, and then meron din akong company na gusto ko, yung box, kukunin ko yung premium niyo, yung premium nila, para po sa isang box ko, sama-sama sila. Are you open for that? Then share the money [with the broadcasters]?
We doubt that that is going to be a possibility here in the Phlippines. If that is actually going to happen, then we can explore how ABS-CBN will deal with that situation.
DTVPH: Now we’re talking about the ISDB-T features, like GEM and NBN right now are focusing on datacasting, or the data broadcast. [From Red Mendoza], is ABS also going datacasting?
For the version of the box during commercial release, the answer is no. But that’s something we can definitely explore in the future.
DTVPH: Though some people suggest na ang gawin nila for example sa Teleradyo, for digital-TV version, will be fullscreen but the datacast will handle the graphics and info.
That’s a good suggestion. Again, it’s something we can explore in the future.
DTVPH: And then the Emergency Warning System [also from Red Mendoza]
We understand that the EWS is an essential component of the ISDB-T technology and this is something we are aiming to take full advantage of. We’ll be exposing details of this more once we launch commercially.
DTVPH: Paano po yung magiging siste ng broadcast ng ABS in the future pag na-fully launched na ang DTV; paano po yung mga regional stations [from Eddie Tadiaman and Jo Cano]?
The regional areas covered by ABS-CBN will also be able to use the box and the benefits of digital television.
DTVPH: Kasi iniisip po kasi nila is biglang ipalabas sa regional is yung national [programming]...
That is something that we will manage internally to ensure that the regional areas will still receive their local programs along ABS-CBN DTV’s new content.
DTVPH: Hindi po ba magkakaroon ng interference [between regional stations]?
We intend to give our viewers the best service so that’s something we will manage. We’ll be assuring our viewers that they will be getting the clear digital signal they paid for.
DTVPH: Very last sir, can we test the box in the future? [Laughs]
Yes, rest assured once we commercially launch, your team will be one of the first to receive a box from us.
DTVPH: When will ABS fix their 1seg (the mobile broadcast)?
While that’s not in my scope, I’ll make sure to relay the message to our team so they can remedy the situation.
DTVPH: About EPG (Electronic Program Guide), will it be available?
Yes, the EPG will be available on our product.
DTVPH: And then meron din po siya nung may reminder function, yung automatically lilipat? Sa SkyCable po kasi, sa lahat ng digital TV boxes, may schedule function na if you want to watch channels at [a certain time]...
Our EPG will have various features and these will all be revealed to you soon once we commercially launch.
DTVPH: Ok lang po ba sa inyo kung lahat ng TV channels ay maging unified for digital TV?
That would be the ideal scenario. It’s inevitable that the Philippines will shift to Digital Television. I think it would be better if all networks will work together to see that this dream finally become a reality.