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ASEAN plan: Malaysia begins switchover to DTT, to go digital by '20

NEW DELHI: With an aim to meet the deadline of end of analogue transmission by 2020 set by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Malaysia has launched digital terrestrial television (DTT) with free decoders to 4.2 million low-income households or about two-thirds of all familie.

Named myFreeview, the DTT is is operated by the state-appointed company MYTV Broadcasting, which has been tasked to build the infrastructure for the migration from analog to digital under a 30-year concession.

The aim is in line with the move in neighbouring countries including India to move away from analogue and radio wave technology in line with the global digitisation trend that began in developed economies, according to Nikkei Asian Business Review.

The broadcast currently carries nine free-to-view local TV channels and four radio programs through 24 transmission towers, covering about 87% of the country's population.

The coverage will be extended to 98% by the end of the year before terminating analog services by June next year.

Launching the service, the Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak said: "That is the manifestation of the government's efforts to improve the quality of life, on par with other developed countries."

MYTV, which has the capacity to air 30 standard and high-definition channels, said it would introduce online shopping and video-on-demand services in the future, competing against paid-TV operator Astro Malaysia Holdings.

myFreeview broadcast can be received by connecting a decoder to a TV set or through digital TV with a built-in receiver.

The 10 members of the ASEAN aim to switch off analogue broadcasting by 2020, starting with Singapore by the end of the year after successfully rolling out DTT services since December 2013.

Thailand had started digital broadcasting in 2014, while other countries including Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam also began the service in selected cities within their markets.

Digitising TV transmission frees up broadcasting frequency spectrum that governments could let to other industries, including telecommunications. It could also generate revenue through advertisements and creative content, enhancing business opportunities for the creative industry.

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