CONSUMERS can expect exciting times ahead when the shift from analog to digital television takes place. This shift, which the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) will make within the year, would offer countless possibilities to consumers and let the government pursue its social agenda. The shift would also enable TV networks to make more money out of their content libraries and let new players come in with huge investments, which would augur well for the economy.
Already, one broadcast company has committed to pump in P250 million to tweak its analog facilities in order to make that quantum leap to digital TV. That player, Broadcast Enterprises and Affiliated Media Inc. (Beam), which now operates UHF Channel 31, is preparing and investing in digital terrestrial television (DTT) network infrastructure precisely to take advantage of the NTC’s expected shift.
It took a while for the NTC to make the change, but the adoption of the Japanese standard in DDT was made easier by go-ahead signals from the country’s TV networks on what standard to use. The Japanese standard offers a clearer reception and allows the networks, and even new players like Beam, to come up with premium TV offerings, aside from free TV, for the benefit of consumers. There are immense possibilities for the NTC’s digital-TV switch.
For instance, there could be the proliferation of interactive features that networks like Beam could take advantage of, allowing for a meaningful exchange between consumers and business enterprises. Explaining the benefits of digital TV, Beam President Steve Macion said government agencies would be able to use an integrated emergency-warning broadcast system through digital TV. This system involves the delivery of emergency-warning information on TV screens and on the ubiquitous smartphones that young people today hold in their hands.
Digital TV could transform our country from being disaster-prone to being disaster-prepared: Imagine that a supertyphoon like Yolanda (international code name Haiyan) is approaching your area and, thanks to digital TV and the emergency-warning system, you are apprised of the dangers it poses well ahead of time.
The government can also take advantage of the switch by seeing to it that its social programs,
ranging from the delivery of health services to education, are reaching out to more people. Imagine teaching Muslims in Mindanao and Ifugaos in northern Luzon about the need to know the basics of finance. That means they would now be adept in saving their money, which, in turn, would help push the growth engine by making their money serve as part of bank-lending activities to propel the economy forward.
Certainly, the new NTC circular adopting the digital-TV standard would mean increased investments that could further boost the economy. For instance, Beam’s P250-million investment would translate into more jobs, as its main transmitter in Antipolo City, Rizal province, is now being replaced with a new, DTT-ready transmitter that would be ready for service by year-end. Aside from the Antipolo facility, the company is also refurbishing its broadcast facilities in the cities of Baguio, Naga, Iloilo and Zamboanga.
Court case hobbles huge Clark project
A COURT case stemming from the sacking of a contractor from a huge $3-billion logistics project in Clark that covers 177 hectares has resulted in the freezing of the investments that would have benefited the province of Pampanga, as it would have created 14,000 jobs for 24 months.
Details of the case, which is now with the Court of Appeals (CA), show that Peregrine Development International (PDI) was fired by Global Gateway Development Corp. (GGDC), which is funded by a Kuwaiti investment firm, over what court pleadings reveal as questions on the pursuit of the project that resulted in cost overruns.
When the project was stopped, about $100 million was already invested. PDI was cited by GGDC for various substantial breaches in engineering, procurement, construction and management in the course of implementing the project.
These alleged breaches resulted in cost overruns; dealings unbeneficial to GGDC; use of GGDC-funded
assets for non-GGDC projects; failure to comply with all applicable laws, which materially affected the project’s implementation; failure to faithfully observe the procurement and bidding procedures to ensure competitive bidding; and willfully committing other acts that are inimical and adverse to the best interest of GGDC.
PDI, however, sought the intervention of the Angeles City court, which was granted. This resulted in the case being raised to the CA, where it is now awaiting resolution. In the meantime, the project, considered as an important cog in business and the development of the aviation industry, has no choice but to wait for that.
But in GGDC’s pleadings, made through lawyer Rita Jimeno David, resorting to arbitration on matters of differences between the two parties has been made part of the agreement between them. Why PDI refused arbitration and, instead, sought a court case is something that the CA may have to look into.