Sunday, March 27, 2016

U-turn by Sri Lanka: Suspended TV digitalisation deal back to Japan

ISDB-T is Japanese Platform
From The Sunday Times
The government, after a lull of over a year, and to the dismay of the community of broadcasters, has decided to hand over ‘Sri Lanka’s Digitalisation of Television Broadcasting Project’ back to the Japanese company which was earlier contracted by the previous Rajapaksa regime.
This decision has been taken by the cabinet economic management committee following representations made by Advisor to the Ministry of National Policy and Economic Affairs R. Paskaralingam recently.
Justifying his claim, Mr. Paskaralingam told the committee that Japan has agreed to provide a sum of Rs. 2.5 billion for the project implementation as a loan on extremely favourable terms and conditions for Sri Lanka.
The TV digitalization deal between Sri Lanka and Japan came under wide criticism and accusation of corruption and commission taking when the previous government entered into a loan agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in September 2014.
Official sources said the present government suspended the project as the Japanese system is not widely used in countries worldwide and Sri Lanka will have to import Japanese television sets as it is very unlikely that the TV sets available in the Lankan market are compatible with the Japanese system.
Under this deal Japanese companies stand to gain much through sales and maintenance contracts. The Rajapaksa regime had allegedly planned to get massive commissions from Japanese TV imports at that time, several heads of private television broadcasters told the Business Times.
The previous government had been accused of massive corruption involving the potential conversion of the television Industry into digital system via this agreement with Japan resulting in the present government halting the deal.
The immediate u-turn of the government is surprising, a former head of engineering of a TV channel told the Business Times adding that a sub committee comprising several engineers and TV industry veteran Dr. D.B.
Nihalsingha has recommended that Sri Lanka should adopt the European originated DVB-T2 (Digital Video Broadcasting – Second Generation) as the standard for digital terrestrial television broadcasting in 2010.
Digital TV broadcasting offers many advantages over analogue systems for end-users, operators and regulators. Apart from increasing the number of programmes and quality of pictures, digital systems can provide new innovative services, such as interactive TV, electronic programme guides and mobile TV as well as transmit image and sound in high-definition (HDTV) and ultra-high definition (UHDTV).
Digital TV requires less energy to ensure the same coverage as for analogue while decreasing overall costs of transmission.
The more efficient use of radio spectrum brought on by digital TV also allows for the so-called digital dividend resulting from the freeing up of much-needed spectrum for use by other services, such as mobile broadband, he added.

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