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Japanese standard chosen for digital TV

Posted on November 07, 2013

PHILIPPINE regulators have formally chosen a Japanese television standard for a planned shift to digital broadcasting.

"The Integrated Service Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) standard shall be the sole standard in the delivery of DTT (digital terrestrial television) services in the country," the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said in Nov. 4 circular.

In Malacañang, Sec. Herminio "Sonny" B. Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office yesterday said: "The next step is to publish it in a newspaper of general circulation, following which the NTC may proceed to prepare the implementing rules and regulations (IRR)."

The regulator had picked ISDB-T back in 2010 but implementation was delayed after Malacañang ordered a review of Europe’s Digital Video Broadcasting-Second Generation Terrestrial (DVB-T2) standard.

European and Japanese officials lobbied the government extensively, touting cost and technological advantages.

Last month, following a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the sidelines of an ASEAN summit in Brunei, President Benigno S. C. Aquino III announced that ISDB-T -- backed by most industry stakeholders -- would be adopted.

Philippine broadcast firms are already conducting ISDB-T field tests. The NTC has targeted a 2015 shift, in line with an Association of Southeast Asian Nations switch to digital TV as part of the bloc’s economic integration plans.

NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo V. Cabarios yesterday told BusinessWorld that a technical working group -- composed of representatives from the government and broadcasters -- would meet next month to work on draft rules.

"If by second quarter [of 2014] they have finished the IRR, we could proceed to the public hearing and the process may be completed next (the following) year," he said.

"There will be a transition period, wherein the analog and digital transmissions will be used at the same time."

The transition period could take two to three years, Mr. Cabarios said. Consumers will have to purchase a set-top box, expected to cost about P1,000, to receive the digital signal.

Noel C. Lorenzana, TV5 president and chief executive, yesterday said: "We really welcome the Japanese standard, in fact we have been preparing for that ... we are happy that the Japanese standard was chosen."

He said that Pangilinan-led broadcaster would be investing some P500 million for the shift.

ABS-CBN Corp., one of the major broadcast firms that have endorsed ISDB-T, has also been conducting field tests. GMA Network, Inc., on the other hand, had backed the adoption of DVB-T2. Officials from both firms were not immediately available for comment yesterday.

TV5 is wholly owned by Mediaquest Holdings, Inc., a subsidiary of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.’s Beneficial Trust Fund. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of the Trust Fund, has a majority stake in BusinessWorld.