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Introducing Digital Television in Peru without Community Engagement

Miriam Larco Sicheri*. Peru, may 2014.

Versión en español | Versão em Português

In 2009, the Peruvian government adopted the Japanese ISDB-T (Integrated Service Digital Broadcasting Terrestrial) television standard with the improvements of the SBTVD (Brazilian Digital Television System), thus starting process of transitioning from analog TV to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT). The goals of the process were to ensure the development of telecommunications, integration, and social inclusion and to contribute to reducing the digital divide and developing the Information Society.

Three commissions, two of them multisectoral, were formed to research and develop standards “for the implementation of digital broadcasting in Peru.” They were charged with examining the technical characteristics of the standards, efficiency in the use of the radio spectrum, merging of services, the contribution to universal access, the reduction of the digital divide, and the development of the Information Society, and with formulating recommendations for the DTT implementation Master Plan.

However, the process’s lack of citizen participation is worthy of note. A study conducted by the Consultative Council of Radio and Television reported that 75% of those interviewed indicated that they had never heard about DTT. Lack of information, difficulty mastering new technologies, the absence of social organizations, and a lack of a citizenry that is knowledgeable about its right to information and  consumers rights have made the process exclusive to television broadcasting entrepreneurs and the government. As such, it is driven mainly by market forces.

The Master Plan for the Implementation of Digital Terrestrial Television.

The Master Plan for the development of DTT has been in development since 2010. The country is currently at the implementation phase, and the following goals have been identified:

a. To provide viewers with access to a greater variety and quality of contents in the fields of information, knowledge, culture, education, and entertainment, improving their quality of life.

b. To allow for the provision of new services, offering maximum benefits to the country in accordance with the rules and recommendations of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the regulations stipulated by international bodies on the use of digital technologies.

c. To optimize efficiency in the management and use of available technologies in an effort to ensure greater availability of frequencies and more efficient use.

d. To foster the development of the industries linked to the television value chain throughout the country.

The digital transition process in Peru has three stages. In the first, television channels will work in VHF and UHF bands. Later, a UHF frequency will be granted to analog television channels in order to allow them simultaneous analog and digital broadcasting. The last stage will start when channels return the analog bands and broadcast solely through digital signal.

Key Points of the Master Plan.

–       The Ministry of Transportation and Communication will not grant new authorizations for television broadcasting service by analog technology, except for in preferential interest areas. Article 40 of the Law on Radio and Television states that “when there are no spectrum restrictions, new authorizations for the provision of broadcasting services with analog technology will be granted upon request when this decision fosters the development of the service in rural areas, areas of preferential social interest, or border areas in accordance with the conditions, timelines, and localities established by the Ministry.”

–        It was determined that the implementation of Digital Terrestrial Television will be carried out progressively in four territories following three stages:

–         

  • The approval of the Plan for Allocation of Frequencies for each locality.
  • The beginning of transmissions with digital technology.

The stage of the analog switch-off.

Territories

Deadline for the beginning of transmission in DTT

Analog switch-off

 1: Lima and Callao

 

2014

2020

 2: Arequipa, Cusco, Trujillo, Choclayo, Piura, Huancayo

 

2016

2022

 3: Chimbote, Ica, Iquitos, Juliaca, Pucallpa, Puno, Tacna, Ayacucho

 

2018

2024

 4: Localities outside of territories 1, 2, and 3

 

2024

Undetermined

–        DTT broadcasting services “will transmit at least an open signal for the free access of the general public through fixed and portable receivers.”

–        There are two modes for the transition from analog to digital television: a) simultaneous broadcasting of programming in analog and digital signals using two channels; and b) direct transmission for the provision of broadcasting services by means of digital technology through a single channel.

–        Television broadcasting owners must submit a statement  of interest to the Ministry of Transportation and Communication for simultaneous analog-digital broadcasting or direct digital transition. If they fail to do so, it is understood that the owner is willing to continue to provide the broadcasting service with analog technology until his authorization’s expiration date or until the analog switch-off.

–        In regard to the simultaneous analog-digital broadcasting modality, migration to an exclusive management channel or a shared management channel is stated. In order have an exclusive management channel, the owner must be a natural persona or legal entity and must at least have authorization to provide television broadcasting service in the city of Lima and in 50% of the localities of Territories 2 and 3, taken as a whole. Operators unable to meet the requirements for an exclusive management channel are allowed to take part in a shared management channel as long as they merge with a minimum of three authorization owners who operate in the same locality. Exceptionally, management shared by two owners is allowed.

–        In regard to funding, the MTC committed itself to promote “coordination between authorized owners and national or foreign entities which, by virtue of agreements that include the Peruvian government, have made a commitment to provide funding in order to promote the implementation” of DTT.

–        In the case of government broadcasting, the Master Plan names only the National Radio and Television Institute of Peru (IRTP), authorizing the transmission of digital programming for fixed receivers in standard definition.

Progress and Opportunities.

According to the last MTC report, the implementation of DTT is progressing in accordance with the Master Plan.

Channeling plans for Territories 1, 2 and 3 and for Digital Terrestrial Television for 74 localities in Territory 4 have been approved.

For its part, the IRTP transmitted the digital HD signal by satellite for the first time. This is important because channels in Lima will be able to use satellites to transmit their television signal to channels located in the provinces, from which they will broadcast them to the people by means of DTT. The MTC is currently working on the correct implementation of the Emergency Warning Broadcast System (EWBS).

Without the funding offered by the Master Plan, the owners of television broadcasting services invested in new equipment and the infrastructure adjustment needed to launch the digital signal. In Lima, eight of 11 TV channels are broadcasting simultaneously in analog and digital signal.[i] Despite the existence of digital programming transmitted by the owners of private and public broadcasting services, the Peruvian population is not able to access it because of the lack of information and the tendency to prefer pay television.[ii] This is why television broadcasting service owners are calling for a greater government effort and have stated that they are willing to work on a joint communication plan.

It is important for citizens to receive simple and clear information on the DTT implementation process. There is need for information campaigns through the media, points of sale, and decentralized public events. In order to access this new technology, consumers must purchase antennae or set-top boxes that allow them access to the digital signal.

It is worth mentioning the 2nd Intergovernmental DTT Conference agreements reached by representatives of the countries that adopted the ISDB-T standard, including Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Japan, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela, and guest countries such as Angola, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mozambique, Suriname, and Sri Lanka. Some of the coordinated actions for the implementation of ISDB-T DTT agreed to during the Conference were:

  • The creation of an Audiovisual Bank disseminated by the DTT platform with the goal of compiling, protecting, and sharing audiovisual materials produced by the member countries of the ISDB-T region Intergovernmental Conference, as well as promoting the creation of a regional television signal for the broadcasting of contents.
  • The creation of an Open Digital Television Applications Repository for the promotion of sharing and collaboration among citizens, institutions, and companies with the purpose of fostering technology knowledge and appropriation.
  • To work towards the creation of a common test platform for the Ginga middleware that allows the convergence of implementation in different countries, making it possible to share applications and interactive contents among nations.

Finally, there is a need to engage organizations and universities and encourage them to open up opportunities for dialogue that guarantee adequate use of the radio spectrum and ensure that the digital dividend will benefit the development of inclusive communication.

 *Director of the Technical Secretariat at the Consultative Council of Radio and Television of Peru

 

RELATED LINKS:

REFERENCES:

[i] The following stations operate an exclusive management channel in Lima (Territory 1): IRTP (CH 16), ATV (CH 18), Frecuencia Latina (CH 20), Red Global (CH 22), América (CH 24), Enlace (CH 34), Panamericana (CH 26), and Bethel (36). The Cuzcan Television Company (Compañía de Televisión Cuzqueña S.A.C.[CH 38]) in Cuzco created ATV (CH 18), the second TDT operating channel in the area.

[ii] The preference for pay television has increased due to the lack of quality and variety of the open television signal.

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