NTC tells TV stations to shift to digital

Report from Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 11 2013 10:39 PM | Updated as of Dec 12 2013 06:39 AM

MANILA – The country will soon use the digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcast service after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered television stations to shift from the current analog to DTT using Japan's Integrated Services Digital Broadcast-Terrestrial (ISDB-T).

But for now, the common TV sets in households can still work on the DTT system by using a digibox.

"Hindi naman papalitan ‘yung telebisyon. magagamit pa rin po ‘yun. Bibili lang ng set-top box. ‘Yung set-top box na ito, ito ‘yung magko-convert sa digital transmission ng mga broadcast companies from analog para ma-recieve nung telebisyon na analog pa ang tuner," said NTC director Edgar Cabarios.

A transition period is being studied by the NTC since almost all TV units in the Philippines were made using the analog system.

Aside from its world renowned reliability, the Philippines has chosen the Japanese standard for a very important reason: it has an integrated emergency warning broadcast system, which means that alerts before, during and immediately after a calamity like a tsunami or typhoon can be broadcast on TV or mobile phones.

The Philippines aims to integrate information coming from weather and seismology bureaus and disaster management agencies in order to relay important warnings to quickly alert residents in affected localities.

“Kunwari nanonood ka ng program, biglang lalabas ‘yung warning tapos may tunog, at kapag zinoom in natin, lalabas ‘Boss red warning, lumikas ka na.’ Tapos makulit ‘yan. Ito naman, ‘Yellow warning, monitor ka lang boss, baka may dumating,” said ABS-CBN DTV marketing head Miguel Mercado.

And since the shift to digital broadcast has already commenced, foreign investments are also expected to benefit Filipinos.

"We expect to see some Japanese companies set up shop in the Philippines to produce things like set-top boxes and other items related to the digital TV and we can expect employment and opportunities for Filipinos in this area of business,” said Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel Lopez.

Aside from ABS-CBN, there are only a handful of TV stations that have started digital broadcasting.

The dzMM radio show of ABS-CBN news anchor Ted Failon has been giving away digiboxes even before government decided to adapt the DTT broadcast service.

Marilou Ocampo is one of those who joined the dzMM promo and won a digibox.

“Magkaiba kasi ‘yung sa [analog], hindi masyado maliwanag, hindi masyado clear talaga. Noong mayroon ng digibox, digital na ito, talagang maliwanag na,” she said.