THE GOVERNMENT sees completion of the country’s shift to digital television taking place beyond 2015, as the regulator expects to take more time to decide with finality on which standard to use and release the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the adoption of this technology.
"At present, the target is still 2015. But this will most likely be changed as we are already pressed for time," Gamaliel A. Cordoba, commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), said in a telephone interview on Friday last week.
Broadcast firms have been waiting for NTC’s decision on which standard to adopt and for the IRR in order to roll out their systems.
Mr. Cordoba said that while an NTC technical working group last week had recommended the adoption of the Japanese standard over the rival European counterpart, "the commission has still to review this and come up with our own decision to recommend to Malacañang."
In June last year, NTC, citing industry preference, announced it had chosen Japan’s Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) standard as the country’s platform over the European Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) technology.
Last March, however, the House of Representatives Committee on Information and Communication Technology, pressed NTC to review its decision, noting the upgraded European standard, DVB-2, was not assessed.
In a last-ditch attempt to convince NTC as it conducted a review, representatives of the European Union Delegation to the Philippines and of the industry-led DVB Project briefed regulators in late-June on the DVB-2 upgrade.
At about the same time, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas issued a statement voicing preference for the Japanese standard, citing cost concerns.
"We will definitely…[arrive at a decision] before the year ends," Mr. Cordoba said on Friday.
He admitted that this decision is what has been holding up the issuance of the IRR.
At the same time, Mr. Cordoba noted that "completing the shift to digital TV is really dependent on the broadcasters and the public," hence, more time may be needed to complete the adoption of the new technology.
"The rollout of signals will be dependent on broadcasters since they may need time to invest, put in place the equipment, etc.," Mr. Cordoba explained.
"The adoption of the technology on the public’s part is dependent on their purchase of digital TV technology-ready sets or set top boxes for their analog TV sets."
While officials of ABS-CBN Corp. and GMA Network, Inc. did not reply to queries last week, Ray C. Espinosa, TV5 president and chief executive officer, said via text that his network is just awaiting NTC’s decision as it has already been putting up infrastructure to support a digital TV system.
"We await the implementing rules of the NTC. We have been building…a digital broadcast infrastructure," Mr. Espinosa said last week.
He added that capital expenditure needed to complete such infrastructure "will not be very substantial."
As TV5 itself supports the Japanese standard, the firm welcomes the recommendation of NTC’s technical working group, Mr. Espinosa added.
Motohiko Kato, minister and deputy chief of mission from the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, said in a telephone interview last Friday that his country is "ready to provide full support [to the Philippines] as we did in countries in Latin America."
Aside from Japan, the ISDB-T system has been widely adopted in South America.
"We are glad to know that the NTC technical working group decided on the Japanese system," Mr. Kato said.
Source: Business World"We’re keeping an eye on the final decision," he added. - Kathleen A. Martin, dated 29 August 2011, 09:39 PM.