Philippine, Japan governments to ink digital TV accord

By Lenie Lectura, Business Mirror

Posted at Dec 27 2010 10:00 PM | Updated as of Dec 28 2010 08:36 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines and Japanese governments are working on signing a memorandum of cooperation following the decision to tap the latter’s Integrated Services Digital Broadcast technology as the country’s standard for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) broadcast service. ?

Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) chairman Ivan Uy said Japan is willing to train Filipino engineers in this field.

This, he said, is contained in the draft memorandum which is currently being circulated for comments.?“The memo is circulating among different departments. We need to get comments from everybody whether on the KBP [Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas] side or the Department of Foreign Affair whether it would affect any of our international agreements or commitment,” said Uy, who added, “Once everybody has given their comment, then we will sit down.”

If approved, Uy said Filipino engineers who will be trained by Japanese experts who can then be tapped by other countries that are also going to adapt the Japanese standard for digital TV.

“Eventually, we would be like a big brother to other countries. We can export our engineers to teach other countries.”

The Japanese government is also being requested by the Philippines to subsidize the cost of set-top boxes. These boxes are necessary so that the Filipinos can watch digital broadcast programs once the shift from analog to digital system is implemented.

“The Japanese government will invest in a set-top box factory in the Philippines. But we are also asking them to subsidize the boxes because we don’t have the funds for that,” added Uy.

When DTT technology is enforced in the country there is a need to switch off all analog TV handsets. The switch-off would render all non-digital TV sets obsolete unless connected to an external off-the-air tuner, or a satellite system.??

The government is looking at delaying the compulsory transition of all analog television service providers to digital TV and for the termination of all analog TV broadcast transmissions from an earlier target set at the end of year 2015.

The National Telecommunications Commission was already given the go-ahead by?the CICT to form a Technical Working Group (TWG) for the purpose of drafting the Implementing Rules and Regulation for digital television.

The TWG will be composed of members from the broadcast industry and stakeholders such as the government, suppliers and consumers.