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TV5 to run digital broadcasting trials on Japanese platform

MANILA, Philippines – While regulators hold off on the issuance of digital TV rules to look anew at technology updates, the Associated Broadcasting Corp. (ABC), which operates TV5, served notice it will run trials for the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) broadcast service, running on a platform endorsed by Japan’s largest mobile phone operator NTT DoCoMo.

TV5 president Ray Espinosa said Thursday the network plans to conduct the Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Technology (ISDB-T) trials in late June or first week of July. “We remain supportive of ISDB-T which we favorably endorsed to the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) previously. Our letter to the NTC is to secure permission to do ISDB-T trials already and also to do comparison with DVB’s (Digital Video Broadcasting) T2,” he said.

His reaction was sought a day after the NTC directed its technical committee to re-evaluate the standards for the DTT broadcast service and to submit its findings on or before June 30, a move expected to delay the issuance of the NTC’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on the industry’s migration to digital TV.

Citing “recent developments” pertaining to the endorsement by some players of the second-generation digital video broadcasting (DVB T2) from Europe, NTC chief Gamaliel Cordoba had issued an office order directing the technical committee to re-evaluate the standards for the DTT broadcast service, even though it earlier opted to adopt Japan’s ISDB standard, and to compare the two.

Japan ’s ISDB-T platform is seen to provide more business opportunities because the bandwidth to be given  to digital TV can be used to service mobile phones. Emergency warning broadcasts to households are also possible with this technology.

Some industry players, notably GMA Network,  had touted, however, the European DVB T2 as superior to Japan’s  ISDB-T.

Asked how NTT DoCoMo reacted to the NTC’s latest directive [to re-evaluate the ISDB and compare it with the European standard], Espinosa said, “Our trials are meant for ISDB-T and we will simply compare the results with DVB.”

NTT DoCoMo, he said, is in fact providing TV5 with valuable inputs. “NTT DoCoMo is providing us with their inputs on ISDB technology and implementation,” said Espinosa, who also sits on the board of directors of PLDT.

TV5 is under MediaQuest Holdings Inc., the holding company of  the PLDT retirement fund. PLDT is partly owned by NTT DoCoMo.

Industry prods NTC on rules

Meanwhile, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) urged the NTC to speed up the issuance of the IRR embodying the provisions that will guide broadcast networks in operating under digital transmission.

With NTC’s belated review of the standards for the DTT broadcast service, it is deemed unlikely to be able to meet the end-June target for releasing the IRR for the transition to digital broadcasting.

“The IRR is almost done. We just have to indicate in the IRR the technology that we will adopt. Of course, we can’t issue the rules yet if we haven’t fully decided yet on the technology but the technical aspects are almost done already,” NTC’s Cordoba said.
Last month, the Television Committee of the KBP prodded the NTC to issue the IRR as soon as possible.

Atom Henares, KBP’s TV committee chairman, had elaborated on the significance of the  migration to digital, saying this  “will not only give Filipinos a better viewing experience with superior clarity in image and sound, but also more choices on free-to-air tv.”

“It is important for NTC to already come out with the IRR because we are all trying to meet the deadline set to the Philippines by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU),” said Atom Henares, chairman of the KBP Television Committee.

“If we keep on delaying the release of IRR just because a new standard is released, we will be left out. Technology is always evolving non-stop. We need to address the needs of the Filipinos now,” stressed Henares.

ITU is the global body mandating countries to adopt a new digital TV standard. The Philippines is a member. Even developed countries like Japan and the United States took almost 1- years to fully roll out digital broadcasting.

Free-TV or non-cable households account for 90 percent of the total 17 million TV households in the country. With digital TV, each existing TV frequency in the country can air up to eight free-tv channels each. This means the country could end up with 176 total channels from its existing 22 TV frequencies. is the online news portal of TV5.