Analogue TV signals will be completely turned off by June 30 next year, six months earlier than planned, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday.
NCC spokesperson Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) said the commission had started installing gap fillers for digital signals for terrestrial TV last year, adding that it was planning to install 50 gap fillers nationwide.
“We installed seven gap fillers last year, including one in Dapu Township (大埔), Chiayi County,” Chen said. “We plan to have another 34 installed this year. Installation work for the remaining ones will be completed next year.”
Chen said that once the gap filler project is complete, the coverage rate for digital signals among the nation’s 369 townships would reach 98 percent, adding that the commission would conduct inspections to ensure that each borough and village has adequate coverage.
Chen said the commission had distributed 1,000 free set-top boxes to low-income families so far this year, allowing them to receive digital signals.
“We will start giving set-top boxes once the gap filler in that area is installed,” he said, adding that the commission is scheduled to distribute an additional 84,000 free set-top boxes by the end of this year.
Prior to providing the boxes to low-income families, the commission had also conducted a nationwide trial to identify problems that could surface during the switch from analogue to digital signals.
During the trial, analogue signals in in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Pinglin District (坪林), Nanao Township (南澳), Yilan County, and Dapu, among others, were turned off, and residents in those areas could watch terrestrial TV on a digital signal.
The commission had initially proposed handing out one terrestrial TV set-top box per household, at an estimated cost of NT$12.6 billion (US$435 million). However, the Executive Yuan turned down the plan, citing a lack of funds.
The commission subsequently proposed to subsidize the purchase of set-top boxes for about 112,000 low-income families around the country. The estimated cost of the subsidy plan was NT$200 million.
Low-income families will not have to purchase the set-top box, Chen said.
“We expect there will be many complaints and questions on their installation,” he said. “We will therefore create a technical support center to take questions from viewers.”
Chen said the commission was planning to allocate part of its budget to help Public Television Service complete the installation of high-definition (HD) transmission devices to ensure Taiwanese can enjoy broadcasts of the London Olympics in HD next year.