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Rules on shift from analog to digital TV out

/ 05:40 AM February 24, 2018

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued the implementing rules and regulations for freeing up frequencies to support the country’s shift to digital television.

The rules, which take effect 15 days after publication, involve the reallocation of the 470 to 512 Megahertz band, or channels 14 to 20.

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It follows the 2013 decision by the Philippines to choose the Japanese digital TV standard over its European counterpart. Japan edged out its rival in terms of cost and a built-in warning system to inform people about natural calamities.

The NTC announced last year that the “switch off” of analog TV was targeted for 2023, after which about 95 percent of all households should have access to digital television.

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The shift to digital would also benefit consumers since it would provide sharper video and audio quality. The NTC noted that existing analog TV stations were using low VHF band channels, which were susceptible to “local electrical interference, particularly in highly urbanized cities.”

According to the rules, all authorized and operating Mega Manila VHF TV networks are entitled to a channel assignment from channels 14 to 20 so long as they file their intention to convert their analog TV service to digital terrestrial television broadcasting.

Those who would fail to submit their notice of intent would waive the opportunity to operate within the 470-512 MHz “without prejudice to the assignment of a channel in the 512-698 MHz band.”

The NTC said a channel that would be the first choice of one network would be automatically assigned to that network. If two or more networks are interested, the winner will be selected via drawing of lots.

In case there were available channels after this process, the NTC will then invite operating and authorized Mega Manila UHF TV networks to submit their intent to be assigned channels in the 470-512 MHz band.

The NTC also noted that the cost of transfer of affected authorized users within the band “shall be equally shared” among TV networks assigned channels in the band.

Each assignee of a channel from channels 14 to 20 should thus issue a check amounting to P9.52 million to be submitted in the name of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, which will act as custodian of the deposits.

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