MANILA – Acting presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar on Wednesday expressed full support for efforts to pursue a transition to digital television (TV) by 2023.

In a Palace press briefing, he said it is about time to switch to digital TV since the Philippines is already lagging behind its neighboring countries.

“Kung tatanungin mo ako as a broadcaster, aba’y dapat lang ituloy natin iyong pag-digitalize ng ating transmission dahil napag-iiwanan na tayo ng ating mga neighboring countries (If you ask me as a broadcaster, I think we should we just continue to digitize our transmission because we’re behind our neighboring countries),” said Andanar, who is also secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

Should the country succeed in migrating to digital TV by next year, he is hopeful that government media could eventually introduce “emergency broadcasting” like Japanese state-controlled public broadcaster NHK.

“Kung mayroon tayong digital broadcasting, ito’y magagamit natin for emergency broadcast tulad ng mga state-of-the-art television network like NHK sa Japan (If we have digital broadcasting, we can use it for emergency broadcast like state-of-the-art television networks like NHK in Japan),” he added.

Meanwhile, Andanar cited the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) as the lead agency in charge of digitization efforts.

“Ang katuwang po natin na siya talagang namamahala at siyang sinusunod ng JICA [Japan International Cooperation Agency] doon po sa Japan ay ang DICT (Our partner that really manages and that JICA follows in Japan is the DICT),” he added.

The JICA has assigned an expert to the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) to help local experts in planning and implementing digital TV and related government projects.

In 2013, the Philippines adopted the Japanese digital TV standard or Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial (ISDB-T), becoming the first Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) country to adopt the standard.

Four years later, the DICT launched its Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting (DTTB) migration plan which expects roughly 95 percent of all households to have access to digital TV.

The migration from analog to digital is in line with the evolution of the country’s communication systems.

The Philippines and Japan tied up in 2018 to digitalize state-run People's Television 4 (PTV4) in a ceremonial switch-on, migrating from being analog to fully digital. (PNA)