MANILA, Philippines – We’re turning Japanese. That is, as far as digital broadcasting, for which the country is preparing to migrate, is concerned.
Regulators have finished a review of the preferred standard for the digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcast service in the country, and the review panel recommended, with finality, Japan’s Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting (ISDB) standard over the European platform preferred by a few players, according to officials.
“The TWG [technical working group] has recommended ISDB technology. We will inform the economic team about this and we will wait for their feedback. If their feedback is to proceed then we will issue the IRR already and schedule the signing of the memorandum of agreement with the Japanese,” NTC deputy commissioner Carlo Jose Martinez said on Tuesday.
With the selection of the Japanese platform having been decided on with finality, the implementing rules for the shift are soon to follow. The NTC is looking to have digital television service implemented next year, with select key cities first.
The NTC heads the technical working group formed to craft the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the transition to digital broadcasting—a process that was delayed by the last-minute lobby by some industry players to try out the European DVB-T2 platform, which they claimed is superior.
Cost however, seemed to play a key part in the TWG consideration, as estimates showed that with the European platform, the public must pay substantially more for the set top boxes that go with the system.
The review team is composed of agency heads from the Department of Finance, National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Trade and Industry. The NTC sought their comments on the economic implications of its decision to shift to digital TV and its chosen DTT standard.
The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), Commission on Information and Communications Technology, NTC, ABC Development Corp., ABS-CBN Corp., Aliw Broadcasting Corp., Broadcast Enterprises and Affiliated Media, Inc., Christian Era Broadcasting Service, Inc., Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer Protection, Eagle Broadcasting Corp. and Zoe Broadcasting Network Inc. were all represented in the TWG.
The industry’s self-regulatory body, KBP, and government channel National Broadcasting Network separately wrote NTC recommending Japan’s ISDB-T over Europe’s DVB-T2. Among several factors, they zeroed in on the cost argument against DVB-T2.
NTC’s Martinez explained that, “In our recommendation, all criteria were met by both standards. However, on the pricing issue that’s where it boils down. Japan’s set top box costs around $20 each while the box for DVB-2 is $40.”
Besides the cost factor, Japan’s ISDB-T platform has been touted as being able to provide more business opportunities because the bandwidth to be assigned for digital TV can also be used to service mobile phones. This technology can also be used to send emergency warning broadcasts to households.
Only GMA Network Inc. and Broadcast Enterprises & Affiliated Media, Inc. favored the European DVB-T2, described as an improved version of the DVB platform.
Meanwhile, Martinez said they are looking to have the implementing rules “released as soon as possible, hopefully within the year.”
Following the Japanese system, the NTC wants the migration to digital TV carried out in phases. The Japanese, according to Martinez, “started with Tokyo then Osaka, and then followed by other major cities.”
He said the TWG will still have to decide which cities will pilot the digital TV shift “but maybe we could start with Manila , Cebu, Davao , among others.”