GMA Network chief: PH not ready for full digital TV shift by 2023
Broadcast giant GMA Network Inc. chair and CEO Felipe Gozon expressed doubts the Philippines would make the full transition to digital television by the 2023 target set by the government.
Gozon told shareholders during the company’s annual meeting last week that households across the country may not be ready due to “affordability and economics.”
“Nobody can say when [full digital television] transmission in the Philippines is going to happen,” Gozon said in response to a shareholder’s query on the planned termination of analog broadcasts, which uses antennas to receive TV signals.
Analog TV shutdown
He cited the example of the United States, which planned to shut down analog TV in favor of digital in the mid-1990s but did so over a decade later.
“In the Philippines, I’m not saying it will take more than 10 years, but because of our economic situation, it’s very hard to anticipate when true digitalization of our television business will happen,” Gozon said.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology’s previously stated goal was to shut down analog broadcasts by 2023.
The more efficient technology would boost the TV viewing experience.
An added feature is a warning system that could immediately air calamity and other emergency broadcasts to millions of households. This was part of the Japanese digital TV standard that the Philippines chose in 2013.
GMA’s digital TV rollout would have implications on government policy. The company emerged as the dominant TV broadcaster after the Duterte administration and its allies in the House of Representatives shut down main rival ABS-CBN Corp.’s free-to-air and digital television business in 2020.
Even after ABS-CBN rolled out digital TV via the ABS-CBN TVPlus in 2015, Gozon was hesitant about the profitability of the segment, which would entail a new round of investments and upgrades.
GMA eventually launched its GMA Affordabox in June 2020 or one month after the ABS-CBN shutdown.
As of the first quarter of 2021, GMA had sold about 1.2 million Affordabox units, its latest quarterly report showed.
The company also launched a counterpart device for mobile phones called GMA Now. Gozon said last week sales for GMA Now were slower since COVID-19 restrictions had confined people inside their homes. INQ
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