NTC issues guidelines on shift to digital TV

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 17 2014 06:43 PM | Updated as of Dec 19 2014 07:04 PM

MANILA – The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has finally issued the guidelines to ensure the smooth transition from analog to digital television.

The NTC released the rules and regulations for the planned shift to digital terrestrial television broadcast (DTTB) under Memorandum Circular 07-12-2014.

Under the guidelines, NTC is requiring analog VHF (very high frequency) TV service to continue until further orders from the NTC.

Operators are required to simulcast DTTB services together with analog TV services within one year upon the grant of authority to provide DTTB service.

VHF TV operators that fail to simulcast within one year will lose their frequency to other qualified UHF (ultra high frequency) TV operators.

Analog UHF TV operators, meanwhile, may directly shift to DTTB services anytime during the one-year transition period, but may also simulcast DTTB services if frequencies are available.

Operators with a valid Congressional franchise to provide TV broadcasting services may apply to operate DTTB, provided that it has the financial capacity and technical capability to install, operate, and maintain the service.

Frequency banks 512 to 698 MHz or channels 21 to 51 have been allocated for DTTB, and a bandwidth of 6 MHz will be assigned for each authorized DTTB service per service area.

The guidelines also require manufacturers and importers of TV units to indicate whether the unit will require a set top box, or whether the unit can receive Integrated Service Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) programs.

"In order to facilitate the entry of digital broadcast services in the country, there is a need to provide the corresponding guidelines for the delivery of digital television services and ensure smooth transition from analog to digital services," Cordoba said.

Government chose to adopt Japan's ISDB-T standard over Europe's Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial 2 (DVB-T2) because of the possibility to broadcast early warning signals during emergency situations.

Aside from Japan, other countries that use ISDB-T are Brazil, Peru, Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Paraguay.

NTC is set to draft a DTTB migration plan in consultation with major shareholders to address the policy, regulatory, and technical issues as well as fiscal considerations, industry and consumer support interventions.

Broadcast firms led by network giant ABS-CBN has allocated funds to acquire equipment and upgrade facilities in preparation for the DTT shift.

NTC earlier said a transition period of up to five years will be needed to complete the full shift to DTT.