Draft IRR on shift to digital TV out; public hearing set

By Lorenz S. Marasigan, BusinessMirror

Posted at Sep 01 2014 08:38 AM | Updated as of Sep 01 2014 07:47 PM

MANILA - The Japanese standard for digital terrestrial television broadcasting (DTTB) is one step closer to deployment, after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) released the draft implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the transmission shift.

NTC Commissioner Gamaliel A. Cordoba is now inviting all affected and interested parties to a public hearing for the proposed migration plan on September 12.

The draft IRR includes channel planning, capital spending, frequency allocation and the specific steps that the industry must undertake during the shift from analog broadcast service to digital, specifically the Integrated Service Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) standard of Japan.

According to the migration plan, there will be a yearlong transition period when both the analog and the digital transmissions will be used at the same time.

This period will commence when the digital switch on—or the date of the effectivity of the IRR—starts. After one year, the regulator will terminate all the analog television services in the country, a period known as the analog shutoff.

“Duly authorized analog VHF [very-high frequency] TV operators shall be required to simulcast their DTTB service, together with the analog TV service, within one year upon the effectivity of this IRR, subject to the provisions of this IRR and other pertinent rules and regulations that the NTC may issue in the future. If any VHF TV operator is unable to simulcast, other qualified UHF [ultra-high frequency] TV operator may be allowed to use for their simulcast the frequency assigned to the VHF operator that is unable to simulcast,” the draft rules read.

During the transition period, broadcasters will have to double their expenses, to which the regulator hopes to mitigate through a quick deployment of the new technology.

The NTC will also assign a bandwidth of 6 megahertz (MHz) to each authorized digital TV operator per service area.

“A duly authorized DTTB service provider shall have the option in its application to the commission to adopt either single or multiprogram HDTV [high-definition television] format or single or multiprogram SDTV [standard-definition] format or any combination thereof for its digital service,” the regulator noted.

The migration plan, which allocates the frequency bands 512-698 MHz (Channels 21 to 51), also encourages operators to add new programs to the analog legacy program.

“The transition and migration from analog TV to DTTB Service shall be based on a transition plan formulated by the NTC in consultation with the broadcast industry,” the proposed IRR read.

Applicants intending to provide digital TV services must have a minimum paid-up capitalization of P50 million for the first service area and an additional subscribed capital of P20 million for each additional service area, according to the document. An applicant must also prove that it has the technical capability to install, operate and maintain the proposed DTTB network.

“A duly enfranchised entity with no existing authorization to provide analog TV service desiring to provide DTTB service shall file the requisite petition for each service area in which it intends to provide DTTB service,” the plan said.

President Aquino announced late last year that the country would apply the Japanese standard over the European. Subsequently, the NTC formally endorsed ISDB-T as the sole standard for digital terrestrial television in the Philippines.