Sat, Jan 17, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Date still not set for digital TV switch

By Shelley Shan

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORER

The nation has not set a timeline for ending analog broadcasts and switching to digital TV channels, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said on Wednesday.

Former commissioners of the NCC had originally planned to accomplish the task by next year.

When asked if the current commissioners would stick to that deadline, NCC spokesperson Lee Ta-sung (李大嵩) said that having a nationwide digital TV service has been a priority for the commission ever since they took office.

CONSENSUS

The commission has reached a consensus with cable service providers on some crucial issues, such as the price of set-top boxes, which will be needed to convert analog signals into digital.

When asked to elaborate on a timescale, other NCC officials attending the press briefing on Wednesday said that the policy has not been officially discussed by commissioners.

In fact, the officials in charge of drafting the policy had not even submitted their proposal.

The slow progress in providing a nationwide digital TV service came to light at Wednesday’s weekly press conference when the Taipei Times asked if the commission had a similar plan to that in the US to delay the switch to digital broadcasting.

A story published in Agence France-Presse (AFP) last Thursday said that US president-elect Barack Obama’s transition team co-chair John Podesta has written to some lawmakers requesting a postponement of the analog cutoff date, which was set for Feb. 17.

COUPON

In the letter, Podesta said that the program that would distribute US$40 coupon to each consumer to help cover the costs of set-top boxes “has run out of funds.”

The suggestion, however, faced strong opposition from US Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin, who urged the US Congress to act fast in fixing problems with the coupon-distribution program and stick to the deadline.

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