Singapore's free-to-air TV channels to go fully digital by 2013

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 
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Adoption of DVB-T2 standard will pave the way for better viewing experiences over all seven free-to-air channels

SINGAPORE — The Media Development Authority today announced that Singapore’s free-to-air (FTA) TV channels will go fully digital by the end of 2013 using the DVB-T2 (Digital Video Broadcasting – Second Generation Terrestrial) broadcasting standard.

With Singapore’s migration to digital TV, free-to-air broadcaster MediaCorp will transmit all its seven free-to-air channels digitally by end 2013. Channels 5, 8, Suria and Vasantham will be available in High Definition by end 2013. The remaining three channels – okto, Channel U and Channel NewsAsia will first be broadcast in Standard Definition from end 2013, before being broadcast in High Definition in 2016.

“The world is switching from analogue to digital TV broadcasting as digital TV not only offers better image and sound quality, but also frees up scarce spectrum for other services, such as wireless broadband,” said Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Dr Yaacob Ibrahim at the opening ceremony of Infocomm Media Business Exchange (imbX) on 19 June 2012 at the Marina Bay Sands.

The adoption of DVB-T2 standard comes after a successful trial conducted last year with MediaCorp and pay-TV operator StarHub. The trial, which involved some 500 households in Ang Mo Kio and Bedok housing estates, showed that DVB-T2 was suitable for deployment in Singapore’s urbanised environment.

To ensure a smooth switchover, there will be a simulcast period, where both digital and analogue free-to-air television signals will be broadcast to ensure all households have time to get accustomed to receiving their free-to-air TV signals digitally. Singapore will complete the switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting by 2020, in line with ASEAN’s agreed timeframe for making the switch(1).

Benefits for consumers

Once DVB-T2 broadcasting begins, consumers can enjoy an enhanced viewing experience when watching MediaCorp’s free-to-air digital television channels. This includes sharper and clearer images, cinematic surround-sound effects, and new content and services such as an electronic programme guide.

Consumers will have different options to tune into digital free-to-air broadcasts. Those who are currently watching MediaCorp channels via a StarHub or SingTel pay TV service are already receiving digital channels. Thus, no action is needed on their part(2).

Consumers who are non-pay TV subscribers will need a DVB-T2 digital receiver and an indoor or outdoor antenna to receive digital TV signals on their current TV sets. MDA is working with manufacturers to develop the technical specifications suitable for Singapore’s digital TV receivers. These digital TV receivers are expected to be available in Singapore from early next year before MediaCorp starts transmitting the free-to-air channels digitally at the end of 2013.

MDA will work closely with MediaCorp, as well as major manufacturers and electronics stores on an educational campaign to help consumers prepare for the digital switchover.

1. In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and South Korea are planning to go digital between 2012 and 2015, while Japan has already gone fully digital since June 2011.
2. However, should they have secondary TV sets not subscribed to Pay TV service, these TV sets would require a digital receiver and antenna each.