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ISDB demo in Taal Vista Hotel, Tagaytay, Philippines tuning to GEMNET (GEM HD)

Digital television transition in the Philippines started its planning stage in 2006 after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) released a memorandum on what DTV broadcast standard to be used for the country. The commission has decided to have UHF TV channels 14-51 between 470-698 megahertz (MHz) given over to digital broadcast.

DTV switchoverEdit

The NTC initially decided that the Philippines will use and adopt the European standard DVB-T for terrestrial transmissions. After the shutdown of analog television (which is initially scheduled on December 31, 2015), the European standard for digital will replace the current (United States) standard for analog, NTSC.[1]

After the release of the draft resolution from the NTC, Philippine television broadcasting giant ABS-CBN had applied for the digital television-terrestrial service (DTT) license to the National Telecommunications Commission of the Philippines using the European DVB-T [1] standard. ABS-CBN is currently experimenting with the transmission of digital signals on Channel 51.

The Associated Broadcasting Company (TV5) have also expressed their intention of switching their current analog television broadcast set-up (DWET-TV 5). They are set to test digital TV broadcast DVB-H on Channel 47 once proper approval from the NTC will be issued. However, due to the change of management (when MPB Primedia Inc. took over the station's airtime) and rechristening the network as TV5, it is still unknown if their digital TV plans will still go through.

GMA Network also planned to test DVB-H in Manila, as demand for content on cellphones increases. However, their application to convert their UHF station DWDB-TV for digital broadcast service is still pending approval from the NTC.[1]

On November 2007 (a year after adoption), after a change with the leadership in NTC, the government body announced that it will reconsider other standards for replacing DVB-T. ISDB-T was already testing by government-owned TV stations. GEM-TV 49 of Iglesia ni Cristo has also made a test broadcast using the same channel on October 2008.[1]

Net 25 with the help of GEMNET, had the first digital and full HD coverage of the 2010 Philippine elections via the ISDB-T system. It also offered real-time election results from via datacasting. However, the coverage is only available in some areas in the Philippines.[1]

As of today, majority of the networks and organizations favor the ISDB-T standard. ABS-CBN, GMA, TV5, Networks run by the government (NBN, RPN and IBC), networks owned by the Iglesia ni Cristo (GEMNET and Net-25), and the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas are in favor of the Japanese-based ISDB-T.

On June 11, the National Telecommunications Commission of the Philippines announced that the country will use the Japanese ISDB-T standard.[2]

HD Broadcast Edit

Currently, high definition (HD) sets sold in the Philippine market do not have a built-in digital TV tuner to receive
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GEM HD is the first ISDB broadcast in High Definition

full HD programs via terrestrial transmission. External equipment connected via an HDMI lead, and a cable or satellite subscription package is required to receive HD programs. SkyCable and Cignal TV (satellite) both offer HD packages.

The first locally produced television program in high definition was the opening ceremonies of the 72nd season of the UAAP. Studio 23 (now called ABS-CBN Sports + Action), the broadcast partner of the collegiate league, however aired the ceremonies on standard definition since the NTC has yet to decide on what DTV standard to be used for over-the-air broadcasts. The HD broadcast of the opening ceremonies was only available via SkyCable. GEMNET broadcasts in HD from 9am to 9pm. As of now, only few TV sets are capable of ISDB-T broadcasts.

Digital CableEdit

Currently, several cable and satellite operators already transmit digital television. Digital TV is received via the use of a set-top box which is plugged into an existing analog television set, and a viewing card is inserted into the box. Advantages include an electronic program guide, parental controls that will allow parents to block programs inappropriate for children, and games.

SkyCable already offers digital cable with the use of its DigiBox. A PLDT subsidiary has launched Cignal Digital TV which currently has 20 channels in standard definition with the use of a satellite dish.


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