GMA Network initially spends P416M on DTT shift

MANILA, Philippines – Broadcast giant GMA Network Incorporated said it is initially spending P416 million on transmitter facilities for its transition to Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcast (DTTB) system.

"Considering the increasing number of ISDB-T ready homes in the country, we are now prepared to exit the test phase and begin with the first part of our DTT rollout in Mega Manila," GMA Chairman and CEO Felipe Gozon said in a statement.

The Gozon-led firm said the amount covers 3 high-powered transmitters and their related antenna and connectivity requirements, as well as a fully-mirrored head-end system, which is a master facility for grouping and digitally encoding programs.

GMA Network is adapting the Japanese DTTB standard, with the rules and regulations of the National Telecommunications Commission.

It was in December 2014 when the Philippine government cleared the way for the country's shift to a DTTB system.

This requests broadcast companies to simulcast DTTB and shut off analog TV by 2019.

Barely two months after the digital shift order, its rival, ABS-CBN Corporation pioneered the digital shift by selling "black boxes" for P2,500 – which are meant to replace the analog antennas installed in 17 million TVs in the country. 

"We are replicating the same level of superiority and consistency that we have exhibited in our analog signal as we shift to digital," Gozon said.

Not long before introduction

GMA said it is spending much lower than ABS-CBN.

Gozon had said the broadcaster allocated P1 billion to P1.5 billion for the DTT infrastructure, much lower than ABS-CBN's about P3 billion.

Meanwhile, according to GMA President and COO Gilberto R. Duavit Jr., all technical back-end requirements related to the roll-out have long been ready, including the media asset management and broadcast automation systems.

"It will not be long before our DTT product is introduced to the market," Duavit said.

Earlier, at the Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP) Digiconference, GMA’s technology arm GMA New Media Incorporated unveiled a prototype of its DTT product, which can function as both a receiver for digital television and a digital media set-top box. 

The device can enable digital broadcast services on analog TV, while transforming the unit into a smart TV capable of playing on-demand content and running different applications.

The Intellectual Property Office has issued a Certificate of Registration for the Utility Model application of GMA's DTT device.

Gozon said that GMA’s DTT product will "not only be different but better than what the competitor has introduced to the market." – Rappler.com