Felipe L. Gozon, chairman and chief executive officer of GMA 7, wants to make it crystal clear: “We are ready to go digital. We can do it anytime.”
But before the Kapuso network can make the big leap, the government has to finalize which standard the local broadcast industry would follow: European or Japanese.
(ABS-CBN, chief rival of GMA 7, has adopted the Japanese standard, the choice of the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas, and as earlier decided by the National Telecommunications Commission.)
The decision is currently under review, Gozon said. According to studies conducted by GMA 7, he noted, “the European standard seems better.”
Gilberto R. Duavit Jr., network president and chief operating officer, explained that the European standard is “vastly superior, technically… particularly in terms of number of channels it can offer.”
Whereas the Japanese standard can accommodate eight channels per frequency, Duavit said, the European standard can offer 12 to 14.
Although European converter boxes can be more expensive than its Japanese equivalent, Duavit predicted that the price of the former would eventually fall (by the end of the year) as a result of increasing demand.
“India adopted the European standard,” Duavit related. “The more evolved TV markets have made the same choice.”
Gozon is gung-ho about going digital because it can open up the industry to other methods of signal delivery, apart from the traditional TV set.
“GMA 7 will become multiplatform. Kapuso shows will be seen on mobile phones, on PCs and laptops,” Gozon said.
However, he added, the more crucial question is sustainability. “Can the local market support the switch to digital technology?”
Duavit agreed: “We have to consider the market profile.”
At present, 90 percent of televiewers are from the C, D and E sectors; only a minority belongs to the A-B crowd, which is the prospective target of digital technology.
Duavit asserted that producing shows with digital technology could be costly.
“High-definition and digital technology require special lights and makeup. It would entail extended taping schedules because setting up the lights on the set would take longer,” Duavit also pointed out.
Duavit said the current TV fare of soap operas and talk shows doesn’t require high-definition technology.
Still, Gozon said, the Kapuso team could meet the challenge of providing content to the additional channels that would inevitably come with the digital switch.