Govt to adopt Japanese standard for digital TV

With only a few weeks left before the Arroyo administration steps down, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) announced on Thursday that it is adopting the Japanese standard for the Philippines’ migration to digital TV.

In a draft circular, the regulator said the country would be adopting the Integrated Services Digital Broadcast-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) as the sole standard for digital terrestrial TV (DTT) services nationwide.

The NTC said its decision was based on the recommendation of the majority of broadcast stakeholders, including the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas.

ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp., GMA Network Inc., ABC Development Corp. and the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. group earlier expressed preference for the Japanese platform over the European Digital Video Broadcast-Handheld standard.

The NTC has set a public hearing (jun11) on its draft circular.

NTC said ISDB-T is a flexible digital TV transmission system that is capable of providing three levels of hierarchical modulation (audio, video and data services) to fixed, mobile and handheld terminals without the need for an additional transmission facility.

In her visit to Japan last year, President Arroyo promised to Prime Minister Taro Aso that the Philippines will support the adoption of the ISDB-T platform.

Tokyo also offered to invest in a set-top box factory in the Philippines so Manila will be enticed to adopt the Japanese standard.

Digital TV is a system for broadcasting and receiving digital sound and video signals that requires a specially designed and more advanced TV set than the traditional analog box. This means that upon migration to DTT, consumers who still have analog TV sets would have to buy set-top boxes to receive digital signals.

According to the NTC, the set-top boxes for the Japanese standard would cost $11, while the price for the European standard gadget would range from $12 to $13.

The regulator estimates that around 14 million Filipino households use analog TV sets. The country originally planned to migrate from analog to digital TV in 2015.

Three years ago, the NTC issued a draft circular adopting the European standard, but it was stalled when then-Commissioner Ronald Solis resigned from his post.

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