European standard in DTV a temporary move: China

BEIJING: China plans to push ahead with its campaign to develop digital television (DTV) cable broadcasting and use the European-dominated standard as a transitional measure.

Last year, China decided the standard for digital television satellite broadcasting, but it is still working on the other two standards: cable and terrestrial broadcasting.

A report in the People's Daily quotes the ministry of information industry's chief of broadcasting and television division Bai Weimin as saying that it will adopt the digital video broadcasting-cable (DVB-C) standard temporarily. However, Bai also added that China will eventually adopt its own standard, which will be compatible with the DVB-C standard.

Reports indicate that a home-grown DTV-C standard, which was expected to come out this month, was delayed mainly due to the immature state of technology.

Hangzhou Science and Technology Co GM and head of the development team for the DTV-C standard Wang Kuang has been quoted as saying that the domestic standard will have interactive functions; better support for data services; and will be easier to use than DVB-C.

The ownership of domestic standards is regarded as critical, since the standards affect broadcasting equipment, transmission devices and receivers.

South Korea, which adopted the US-developed ATSC (advanced television system committee) standard, is said to pay US$30-$40 in royalties for every TV set.

If the same fee was applied to China's 100 million cable television users, the Chinese people could face a royalty bill of more than 30 billion yuan (US$3.6 billion). However, the industry cannot wait until the domestic standard is developed because of the need to start digital broadcasting soon.

According to the 10th Five-Year Plan for broadcasting, film and television (2001-05), 30 million households are expected to receive digital TV programmes transmitted via satellites, with another 30 million receiving their signal via cable, by 2005.

The state-level China Central Television will be responsible for building a central programme platform, including paid TV programmes and paid film TV channels, which is expected to transmit digital TV programmes this month.

The State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) aims to introduce one million TV households to digital broadcasting this year.

Digital TV broadcasting, with its high picture quality, large transmission capacity and value-added services, is meant to cover the whole of China by 2010, when the country will stop using the current system of analogue TV broadcasts.

Officials estimates up to one trillion yuan (US$120 billion) will be spent on upgrading current broadcasting systems and buying digital TV sets in the switch to digital TV broadcasting, creating 500,000 jobs in China.

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