With the arrival of DTT —already mostly in place in Asia, the United States and several European countries, and currently being developed in Latin America— the experts are noting that channels, producers and all those involved in television’s creative process will have to strive towards creating products tailored to the requirements of the new technology, which implies the need to adapt to technological changes.
According to Juan Andres Carreño, President of the National TV Commission in Colombia, which has been at the forefront of implementation, the main advantage with DTT is that it operates on free-access TV, and this will generate
audience increases. “The biggest challenge is that producers will have to change the structure in order to develop what is
known as a multi-product, meaning a format that can be adapted to different modes. An example could be the series Dr. House, which is a digital format available in multiple platforms. With these multi-products, once they’ve been
present in all those windows, the producer can also start looking at digital TV in airlines, where there’s an option menu for choosing different series to watch.”
As for the technical decisions made in different territories, as for instance when a country only has outdated
decoders, Carreño said that “in Europe, it was required that all TV viewers get interactive decoder boxes or conditional access in order to be able to get pay services in open-access TV.” What’s being discussed in Colombia’s case is what would be the most convenient solution: ideally, for DTT to become a stable and universal mass medium. But here the economics present a problem —making DTT universal entails cost increases, since all the technology needs to be imported from other countries.
“After analyzing the problem, the appropriate conclusion is to get decoders that could perform all the necessary functions citizens require and that would truly generate benefits and advantages in technology and contents,” concludes Carreño.
Regulation was another topic discussed in the forum, whose panelists included Eladio Gutierrez Montes, President of Spain’s DTT Initiative; William del Rio, Coordinator of Implementation in Panama; and Jordi Ortiz, Project Manager, Telecom España. The consensus they reached is that regulations need to be clear, given the huge investments required and the risk that legal uncertainty would represent, which many believe could put the financing of projects in jeopardy, and this includes public TV.
“In Colombia’s case, the Government could force operators to broadcast an information system dealing with the transmission of social content. And this would be carried out in ‘pay-per-view’ mode. These new resources would be implemented as financing projects for public TV,” added Commissioner Carreño.
Douglas Velasquez Jacome, Manager of RTVC, a public TV broadcaster in Colombia, explains that the Colombian Government has left the company in charge of installing the digital terrestrial television network. “Part of the resources have already been disbursed, and an investment of approximately five million dollars will be made, with the goal of having a signal by the mid-June.” In a process that will be carried out in stages, what’s being sought is to learn from the construction of the first digital network and to broadcast high-quality content. One key process during the transition is how to progressively turn off the analog network.
DTT’s benefits are perceived in stages, as an added value.
The Network Broadcast multinational, a leader in the development of DTT that’s had great success in several Latin American countries, is in charge of handling and managing the growth of digital television in Colombia by means of converting the analog system to DTT.