Govt to switch to digital TV by September


THE government is expected to shut down the current television (TV) analogue transmission, and switch to the digital platform by September this year.

Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chief digital officer Gerard Lim Kim Meng said the project would close the gap of the urban-rural divide by giving local viewers new improved broadcast services for free.

He said the digital TV platform known as myFreeview has already reached about two million low-income earner group in the rural areas who had already received the free decoders distributed by MYTV Broadcasting Sdn Bhd.

“The digital TV transmission is expected to assist in narrowing the country’s digital divide among urbanised and remote areas, allowing equal access to information.

“This development would also benefit and give opportunities for content providers to widen their reach nationwide,” Lim said in a media briefing on myFreeview TV broadcast last Friday.

The digital TV broadcast, which have been implemented in some 60 other countries worldwide, would promise better and clearer audio and picture quality in standard definition, as well as high definition.

The switch off process is expected to be rolled out in stages.

“We are going through some approval process, including at the ministerial level.

“When we start at the pilot site, we will learn what is going to work and what is not, and will ensure the next analogue switch off to be smoother with lesser issues before we continue the process through out the whole country,” he added.

Lim said the platform is currently available to 98% of Malaysia’s population.

The digital terrestrial TV, or DTTV, service under the myFreeview branding is a government initiative offered for free to the rakyat, managed by MYTV through private sector funding.

Currently, besides the decoder — which is priced about RM200 each — Lim said there are also about three million Integrated Digital TV (IDTV) users in Malaysia who will benefit from myFreeview TV programmes as the device comes with a built-in decoder.

However, according to MYTV CEO Michael Chan, from the total three million users, his survey found that only 30% of them are utilising myFreeview programme.

“MYTV shareholders have spent RM1 billion on this project and the huge part of the money had gone to the setting up of the boxes and networks.

“So, we are incentivised to make sure that more people will watch the myFreeview channels now,” he said.

In October last year, it was reported that myFreeview service was disrupted for over two weeks in several states due to a financial dispute between MYTV and Telekom Malaysia Bhd.

Chan said the issue has been resolved and such incident will not recur.

The platform offers 15 TV channels and six radio channels, an extension from the existing frequency offered by the Media Prima Television Networks and government agencies such as Bernama and Radio Televisyen Malaysia.

Equipped with interactive TV feature, the platform does not require an Internet connection but only a decoder, or an IDTV and UHF aerial.

MyFreeview chairman Johan Ishak said more broadcast channels are expected to join the service in the near future.