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Digital TV shift to start in five years

Posted on October 27, 2014

THE COUNTRY’S migration to digital terrestrial television standard (DTT) can be expected to start in about five years, with Metro Manila leading the way, a regulator said yesterday.

“We are targeting to release the IRR within the month, as we just have to finalize some minor details,” National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Commissioner Gamaliel A. Cordoba said in a phone interview, referring to implementing rules and regulation.

“After the publication of IRR, next will be the migration plan or when to shut off analog TV. This will be by phase and for NCR (National Capital Region), the shift will be not more than five years from now... or by 2019,” Mr. Cordoba said.

“After the first phase, which is the NCR, the succeeding phases will be for provincial networks. This is because we still need to assure that provincial TV networks have enough budget for the building of infrastructure.”

Asked what the migration plan will entail, Mr. Cordoba replied: “It will include capital spending for networks, channel planning, frequency allocation, steps that they (networks) must undertake during the digital TV shift and also the phases and timetable.”

On Aug. 31, the NTC issued its draft IRR for the migration that requires broadcast companies to simulcast their DTT service and analog service within the first year of IRR implementation.

“No analog TV operation shall be allowed after the analog shut-off, which will be set by the agency,” the draft IRR stated.

According to Mr. Cordoba, analog shut-off is targeted to start by 2019 with NCR-based networks.

In addition, the draft IRR said that “a bandwidth of six megahertz (Mhz) shall be assigned for each authorized DTT service per service per area.” It also allotted the 512-698 Mhz (Channels 21 to 51) frequency bands for DTT.

The draft IRR said a “duly authorized DTT service provider shall have the option in its application to the Commission to adopt either single or multi-program HDTV (high-definition television) format or single or multi-program SDTV (standard-definition television) format or any combination thereof for its digital service.”

Aldrin M. Cerrado, chief financial officer of ABS-CBN Corp., said by phone on Friday: “We have already spent around P2 billion for infrastructure and it’s already built. We’re just waiting for the IRR. And if they said that we should already shut off analog now, we’re ready. Infra is there, we are ready to migrate.”

GMA Network, Inc. President and Chief Operating Officer Gilberto R. Duavit, Jr. had said in a Sept. 26 e-mail: “At present, we continue with our independent field tests, which are done to validate assumptions made with respect to our transmitter network design and the deployment of the technology.”

“Technical and equipment upgrades are already being implemented in line with the adoption of HD content production. The budgets for these have been allocated over the period covered by our upgrade program, although we cannot disclose the specific amount.”

Emmanuel C. Lorenzana, TV5 president and chief executive officer, had said in a Sept. 17 interview: “We need to invest anywhere from P500 million to P700 million across three to four years for digital television; the amount will be used to build our infrastructure and transmission.” Mr. Lorenzana added that the company will complete the upgrades “earlier than 2020.”