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Philippines plans to completely switch to digital TV broadcasting by 2023

Adrian M. Reodique | Feb. 15, 2017
To provide better TV viewing experience and enable efficient information dissemination in times of calamities, says Jorge V. Sarmiento, Undersecretary for Management and Operations of DICT.

Government officials and representatives from local television networks participated at the ceremonial digital television switch on. 

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on 14 February 2017 launched the Philippines' Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting (DTTB) Migration Plan. The plan aims to fully shift from an analog to a digital broadcasting system in the next four to six years.

The DTTB Migration Plan consists of policies and regulations, as well as technical and fiscal issues critical for the shift to digital television broadcasting and, eventually, to a complete Analog Switch Off (ASO).

The Philippines has also adopted Japan's Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting - Terrestrial (ISDB-T) in November 2013 as the sole standard for delivering DTT services. The ISDB-T will enable an Early Warning Broadcast System (EWBS) to send warnings and advisories on the televisions in times of calamities.

"The switch from analog to digital transmission is expected to provide a better TV viewing experience to the Filipinos, and efficient information dissemination in times of calamities. DTTB offering is a multi-channel capability as well as better picture and sound quality that are delivered free-to-air using conventional aerial antenna," added Jorge V. Sarmiento, Undersecretary for Management and Operations of DICT.

Besides that, DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima said the switch to digital broadcast will free up the current very high frequencies (VHS) which can be used for other services such as in broadband deployment.

On the side of television networks, digital television will allow them to offer new services through datacasting and Broadcast Markup Language.

"Digital technology makes possible different types of content such as audio, video, and data to be multiplexed in the same frequency and delivered to a variety of access technologies," said George P. Tardio, Chief for National ICT Planning Division of DICT.

"The convergence of multiple platforms of information delivery is expected to produce a rich diversity of content," he added.

The impact to Filipinos

DICT hopes that the majority of Filipino television households (95 percent) would own a digital television by 2021 to 2023, before the completion of ASO.

Since ASO requires Filipinos to buy new digital television or equipped their analog televisions with set-top boxes to receive digital broadcasts, it will greatly impact the more vulnerable citizens such as the poor, elderly, and people with disabilities (PWDs).

"For this major change, the main principle is to ensure that all analog viewers will transition to digital television broadcasting with the premise of free-to-air TV broadcasting as a public service, as such there should be no one left behind," said Tardio. As such, Tardio explained that the government will develop and roll out an assistance scheme to fund set-top boxes and antennas, as well as, provide help with installation. The Department of Finance will provide support in terms of funding, while the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will give out financial subsidies to those in need.


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