Networks brace for digital TV war


AS the country prepares to plunge into the digital television age, the leading networks have been gearing their arsenal for a full-blown digi-TV war and shifting to digital TV formats. This is because
the government has announced the country’s commitment to the digital TV technology by choosing the Japanese over the European technology suppliers.

The Lopez-led company, ABS-CBN, has invested close to P2 billion for shifting to the digital TV format. GMA Network Inc. also said that except for the transmitter, all its equipment are 90-percent digital.

Not to be outdone, Noel Lorenzana, TV5 president and CEO said it welcomes the Japanese standard and has been preparing for that. “We have tested the system and see how it’s going to pan out at the same time.

We are planning on how we could be competitive with the new system.

We are happy that the Japanese standard was chosen.”

Digital television is an innovative transmitting technology that has transformed TV viewing while enabling the broadcasters to offer better picture and sound quality. It also offers multiple programming choices.

The Aquino administration picked the Japanese standard over European mainly because of its emergency warning broadcast system (EWBS).

The EWBS is one of the main characteristics of ISDB-T, which automatically turns on and alerts people effectively. The EWBS is also available for mobile phones as long as there is broadcast signal. People can receive emergency information outdoors.

Combining with characteristics of digital broadcasting such as data broadcasting, EWBS can provide people intelligence information in user-friendly form.

One-seg, watching TV with mobile phone is included in DTTB signal of normal ISDB-T and works with less power. Therefore, even battery-powered devices such as mobile phones with one-seg can receive TV programs.

One-seg is one of the main characteristics of ISDB-T, which enables you to watch TV with mobile devices without additional transmitter. Multi-language function of subtitles, digital subtitles in multiple languages are one of the basic characteristics of digital TV.

Subtitles characteristic is not only essential for handicapped people provides more applications. For example it enables watching TV in places you can’t turn on the sound.

Electronic program guide, or EPG, is structured timetable of TV programs delivered by broadcasting signal. It has many advantages such as enabling timetables to be shown on TV receivers, it always provides latest information, EPG is also available for TV recorders at home. It means that if you put only the name of TV program, the recorder can find the program on EPG and automatically record it, even when the timetable has been changed.

Finally, it has data broadcasting that provides interactive contents on TV, data broadcasting enables interactive contents available on TV receivers by broadcasting signals. It can provide multimedia contents like web pages without Internet connections, among others.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said despite the second quarter deadline, the agency can’t meet the government 2015 implementation to give people enough time to shift to digital. The government said that during the implementation both digital and analog signals would be available for customers for a certain period of time to aid them to the shift.

“We could easily implement the new technology, but when it comes to the implementation of the analog shut off or ASO we would have to give consideration the readiness of the consumers,” Cordoba said.

The official also said that the technical working group has started drafting the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the new standard. “Right now we are already putting all together the implementing rules and regulations. We are doing that with all the stake holders, composed of government agencies, broadcasters, cable operators and networks,” Cordoba said.

“We need to thresh out every issue that might come out before we could finish the IRR, which we expect to finish by the first or second quarter of this year,” Cordoba said.

According to the official, “We need to thresh out every issue that might come out before we could finish the IRR, which we expect to finish by the first or second quarter of this year.”

This means that right after the promulgation of the migration plan, the implementation of the technology will follow.

The technical working group—composed of representatives from the government and the networks—was not able to meet in December to start preparing the IRR. NTC said that the migration plan will include equipment pricing, channel planning, and how to implement the transition to the integrated service digital broadcasting-terrestrial (ISDB-T) standard, etc.

When ISDB-T is fully implemented, consumers will have to buy a digital set-top box—mainly used to receive digital television signals, which would cost about P1,000.

The last price check of the government showed that a top box costs $10 to $11.


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