ABS-CBN sticks with Japan DTV platform, pours new investment

In an apparent attempt to finally force the government to issue a ruling on the country’s official Digital TV (DTV) standard, broadcasting giant ABS-CBN has announced that it is pouring new investments on its new DTV initiative.

In a press statement released on Monday, May 6, the Lopez-owned firm did not mention the amount it is investing on its DTV initiative and the DTV standard it is adopting. It is common knowledge, however, that it has already invested a huge amount on the Japanese DTV standard or Integrated Service Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial (ISDB-T).

ABS-CBN was prompted to invest on ISDB-T a few years back when the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) decided to adopt the ISDB-T. This ruling, however, was suspended by Malacanang after GMA-7, ABS-CBN’s bitter rival, argued that the European DTV standard, Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial 2 (DVB-T2), was better.

Despite the years that have passed, the Office of the President has not yet decided on what DTV standard the country will adopt. But, by investing anew on the ISDB-T standard, ABS-CBN seems bent on forcing Malacanang to finally issue a ruling on an issue that has hanged over a long time.

In the press statement, ABS-CBN said it has invested heavily on infrastructure and test broadcast activities in the past six years to ensure a smooth transition to DTV.,

DTV, it said, offers viewers digital clear picture and sound for all existing channels, and also more content as each network can broadcast in more than one channel.

DTT, globally considered as the future of television, was originally discussed to totally replace the existing analog broadcast transmission system in the Philippines that is plagued by issues on poor reception nationwide by 2015.

“ABS-CBN Corporation is on its way to bringing clear TV viewing to millions of Filipino households that continue to make do with poor picture and audio quality by investing in digital terrestrial television (DTV) and cable TV,” it said.

ABS-CBN DTV marketing head Miguel Mercado said 80 percent of households in the country today do not have cable TV and majority of these households belong to the DE socioeconomic class, who could not afford to subscribe to cable TV services.

Of this number, he said less than 52 percent of households receive only two channels of tolerable quality with the current analog TV transmission and it is unlikely that they will get better TV reception given the developments in urban cities that are barring TV signal transmission.

“People do not get clear reception on TV because of the buildings and billboards that create interference in the signal. They don’t have a choice and they think it is because of their old TV sets,” he said.

“Digital terrestrial television will diminish the effect of development in the transmission of content and help the government fulfill its mandate of providing citizens access to information as it enables them to view more channels clearly.”

However, Mercado said only 20 percent of Filipino households have cable and they are the only ones who enjoy clear picture and audio quality as opposed to the experience of the majority of Filipinos.

He said this is ABS-CBN’s biggest motivation in preparing for DTV.

“All the network’s efforts of producing world class programs are for naught if the content cannot be viewed and appreciated in its true value, if it even reaches the people at all. But the main reason we continue to innovate is to give the people a choice, an access to a wealth of information and entertainment that analog transmission simply cannot address very well,” he said.

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