NTC drafting guidelines for sale of digital TV set top boxes

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 19 2014 11:48 AM | Updated as of Dec 19 2014 07:55 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The implementing rules and regulations for the country's shift to digital television will take effect on January 1, 2015, an official of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said.

In an interview with DZMM, NTC director for broadcast services Alvin Blanco said the IRR for the shift to digital terrestrial television broadcast (DTTB) was published on Tuesday.

He said broadcast networks who want to start rolling out their digital TV service can start applying for the necessary permits with the NTC in January.

"Puede na mag-umpisa na sila (broadcast networks) mag-latag ng kanilang TV stations. Puede nilang umpisahan i-convert yun analog TV service into digital TV service na step by step yun hanggang matapos ang buong transition natin," Blanco said.

Under the rules, broadcast networks are required to simulcast DTTB services together with analog TV services within one year upon the grant of authority to provide DTTB service.

At the same time, Blanco said the NTC is drafting guidelines for the sale of set top boxes that will receive the digital TV signals. The guidelines are expected to be released by the first quarter of 2015.

"Wala naman talagang permits required for the sale (of receiver sets). We will just come up with guidelines for the information of the public and mga suppliers para aware sila, lalo na labeling ng receivers para alam ng public kung ano ang binibili nilang equipment, kung digital ready na or analog pa," Blanco said.

Manufacturers and importers of TV units are required 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.

"Ang na-mention doon sa ating IRR is that we will require the labeling of receivers, nandoon na whether (it can receive) early warning broadcast, mandatory po yun," the NTC official said.

Blanco said they will still consult with the manufacturers to clarify this issue before releasing the guidelines on the sale.

The Philippines chose to adopt Japan's ISDB-T standard over Europe's Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial 2 because of the possibility to broadcast early warning signals during emergency situations, such as typhoons and earthquakes.

NTC is also drafting 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 shift.

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