Manila, Philippines (February 14, 2017) – The government plans to switch-off the current analog television used by more than 14 million households by 2023 and completely migrate to Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting (DTTB) within the next six years, for better TV viewing experience for the Filipinos and efficient information dissemination in times of disasters.

The announcement was made Tuesday morning, February 14 by Engineer George P. Tardio, chief of the National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Planning Division of the Department of Information and Communications and Technology (DICT).

It was part of the Philippine DTTB Migration Plan unveiled during the 2-day Digital TV Summit 2017 organized by DICT held at Novotel Manila Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City.

The plan contains the policies, regulations, and technical issues that are involved in the country’s migration to Digital TV including the strategies to prepare for the Analog Switch Off (ASO).

“We are targeting four to six years of simulcast before the analog shutoff … switch off,” said Tardio.

Before any analog switch-off, there should be a sufficient DTTB service coverage among households and mass uptake of DTTB receivers.

At least 95 percent of TV households should have adopted DTTB while the remaining 5 percent will be given financial and technical assistance to adopt the new TV standard.

DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima along with international partners and executives or major TV networks also conducted the ceremonial “pulling of lever” to mark the country’s official step-by-step migration to digital television.

DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima during ceremonial switch-on to digital television. Photo courtesy of UNTV News and Rescue, Rey Pelayo.

Digital TV Major Developments

In August 2016, Breakthrough and Milestones Productions International (BMPI) Chairman and CEO Daniel S. Razon disclosed few details of UNTV’s roll-out of DTT service. BMPI operates the UNTV network.

As early as 2013, Razon already announced the network’s ongoing transition from analog to digital broadcast. The activity includes upgrading of technical equipment and studio facilities.

UNTV had already replaced its old transmitter and tower and began its ISDB-T test broadcast in Mega Manila on UHF 38 (617143 frequency). The public service channel is also expected to launch its DTV service in other provinces anytime soon.

It also launched its upcoming educational channel for kids, the Kids Nation Channel (KNC). KNC will occupy ‘UNTV-2’ slot in digital TV by 2017.

ABS-CBN already launched its DTV service in 2014 and sold more than 2 million DTV receivers branded as TVPlus.

GMA Network Inc. meanwhile said it has allocated Php 416 million for its digital rollout.

Recently, state-owned PTV-4 taps Japan’s NEC Corporation for the initial rollout in 6 provinces while PLDT group’s TV5 earlier announced that it will earmark Php 700 million for a nationwide deployment.

ISDB-T Standard

In November 2013, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a memorandum circular on the “Standard for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Broadcast Service,” following an order of then-President Benigno Aquino III for the industry to shift to digital TV using ISDB-T or the Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial, the Japanese DTT standard adopted by Philippines.

It is also the same standard chosen by more than 20 countries including Brazil, Argentina and Peru.

DTV offers multi-channel capability and better picture and sound quality delivered free-to-air using conventional aerial antenna. This will eliminate snowy pictures and ghost feedback, a major problem in analog broadcast systems.

The ISDB-T standard has an Emergency Warning Broadcast System (EWBS) feature that allows the government to send early warnings and alerts for disaster preparedness and disseminate advisories and guidance on evacuation, food provisions, and medical assistance in times of disasters. It also supports Datacasting and Broadcast Markup Language (BML) features which allow the TV station to show public service announcements and other information on demand along with any given TV show. [techthetruth]

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