PH’s digital television transition will be a messy change-over

Let me be the first to say a very Happy New Year to every one who  are currently subscribing Timow’s Blog.

This first WordPress post of 2014 is dedicated to DTV Pilipinas

We concluded the sixty years of Philippine television and entered into it’s 61st year. Yet, the future of television begins here.

Digital television standards across the world

Digital television (DTV), as defined by Wikipedia, is the “transmission of audio and video by digitally processed and multiplexed signal, in contrast to the totally analog and channel separated signals used by analog television.” Simply put, digital TV gives you a clear sound and picture and you can watch different channels at the same time. DTV gives a wide coverage than analog ones.

Currently, there are four standards of digital television terrestrial broadcasting (DTTB):

  1. Advanced Television System Committee (ATSC);
  2. Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial (DVB-T);
  3. Terrestrial Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting (ISDB-T); and
  4. Digital Terrestrial Multimedia Broadcasting (DTMB) 

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the agency well-known for regulation of telecommunication services of the Philippines, decided to use the standards of ISDB-T, used by Japan and most South American nations, instead of ATSC of North America and South Korea. The choice of ISDB-T was given an naive example by the Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary, Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr., of the the feature of early warning system in Japan.


The nations’ progress of digital television. The nations in red signifies the completion of transition of DTV. The Philippines, in light orange, is undergoing trial.

The date of the transition to digital television is on December 31, 2015, about two full years from now.

So far, trials are made into terrestrial broadcasters. Among all broadcasters in the archipelago taking part of this experiment is INC-TV 49, a non-commercial network owned by the Iglesia ni Cristo (aside from Net 25). Channel 49 took the digital television experimentation very seriously due to the strict ethics implemented on the religious denomination. Unlike mainstream VHF channels (from the kingmaker, “oligarchic” ABS-CBN 2 to the incompetent, hopeless IBC 13), they tend to be arrogant and to be boastful in programming ratings than focusing on the engineering of transition.

Timow’s Blog begs to know that the transition will be a complete messy changeover due to the following reasons.

1. Lack of government’s will and trust to prepare a smooth transition

Our National Government, which is currently ridden into the pork barrel scam, would say “meh” over the transition of digital television. Unlike the U.S. Congress, which they passed such legislation back in 2005 and amended four years later, our legislators do not think about the transition in a long-term as they are the suckers of handling and pilfering national coffers. Thus, the American people were informed of the transition and were prepared for it  until the deadline of Friday, June 12, 2009.

When would ours do the same thing? Think about the poor that can afford a TV than a computer with an Internet connection.

2. The type of television set to be used

With new flat screen and LED televisions appeared to our window displays on appliance centers, we couldn’t tell if the television set to be purchased is ISDB-T compliant.  It is the NTC’s will to inspect imported TV sets (because we barely manufacture TV sets here) if they are ISDB-T compliant or not. If you decided not to buy LED television sets due to the price, better install cable or buy a digital tuner which will be discussed on the next reason.

3. The cost of the tuners and the affordability

The cost of an ISDB-TV tuner, as it researched on, reaches about P 7,000+. For masses, it cannot be afforded easily as they tend to use their income for basic necessities of food, shelter and clothing. The Government should learn from its big brother, America, by setting a coupon program (click here to see the image), using our taxpayers’ funds as subsidies on digital tuners. It may be very unhappy for limited government advocates but something to be done in order to appease the people’s purchase burden.

4. The recovery of TV transmission in typhoon-struck areas

Almost two months from the wrath of Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” the key city of Tacloban remains hard to recover television transmission. Just like what happened in Tohoku, Japan recovering from the deadly quake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, the stations were given some period to recover and to re-establish digitization of transmission from the initial July 24, 2011. The NTC should set a memorandum to put the TV stations on typhoon-stricken areas to delay the transition, say, on June 30, 2016.

With four certain reasons why this DTV transmission wouldn’t run smoothly, we just wonder if the Government and scientific innovation can respond?

[Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]


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