Phl to adopt Japanese standard on digital TV
() - September 7, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang is set to issue an executive order adopting the Japanese standard in digital terrestrial television (DTT) to be adopted by local broadcast networks.

Sources told The STAR that the announcement will be made in time for President Aquino’s state visit to Japan, whose government has been pushing for the adoption of its own Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) amid intense lobby by rival European standard.

“It will be a Malacanang issuance because they know that the Japanese government wants this,” a source said.

The Japanese government has offered not only to provide official development assistance (ODA) but also the establishment of a factory in the Philippines that will make the digital set-top boxes needed for the shift from analog to digital transmission. The Japanese, in the meantime, are offering to sell set-top boxes at prices much lower than what the Europeans are offering.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is also expected to issue soon a memorandum circular for the adoption of the Japanese ISDB-T after the NTC-DTT technical working group reportedly recommended the adoption of the Japanese version.

Under a draft circular, the NTC will mandate that all broadcasting entities switch off their analog transmission by 2015 although there are talks that this may be further extended.

A number of broadcasting companies such as ABS-CBN are now test-broadcasting via digital transmission. Prior to the deadline, digital and analog transmission will exist side by side with digital transmission made possible using digital set-top boxes. By 2015, television sets should either be digital-ready or use digital set-top boxes since the analog transmission will completely be switched off.

DTT is the technological evolution of broadcast television and advance from analog television, which broadcasts land-based (terrestrial) signals. It features reduced use of spectrum and more capacity than analog, better-quality picture, and lower operating costs for broadcast and transmission after the initial upgrade costs. A terrestrial implementation of digital television (DTV) technology uses aerial broadcasts to a conventional television antenna (or aerial) instead of a satellite dish or cable television connection.

In a position paper submitted to the NTC-DTT technical working group, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) said any technical advantage offered by the European standard DVB-T2 at this point is outweighed by the benefits to be gained by adopting ISDB-T, with the substantially lower cost of its set-up box resulting in faster take-up by the consumer, and thus, an earlier analog switch-off.

The set-top box is the device that enables the reception of a DTT service-signal by an analog TV set.

“Although DVB-T2 system is technically superior, these advantages have been shown to be irrelevant to the most important stakeholder in the project - the Filipino consumer.

The consumer is entitled to clearer and better quality TV experience through an affordable migration to DTT...Consequently, stakeholders will realize the benefits of the digital dividend earlier with ISDB-T as the DTT standard for the Philippines,” KBP said.

ANALOG BRODKASTER DIGITAL DTT INTEGRATED SERVICES DIGITAL BROADCASTING-TERRESTRIAL JAPANESE NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION PRESIDENT AQUINO SET TELEVISION TRANSMISSION
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