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Plan Unveiled to Digitize Television System in China

China News Digest, 16 February 2002

[CND, 02/16/02] China has unveiled a comprehensive plan that could replace its current analogue television system with digital broadcasting across the entire country by the year 2015 in an effort to align the country with advanced countries that harbor the latest TV technology, the Hong Kong iMail reported on Friday, quoting the official Xinhua News Agency.

As part of the plan, China will provide live broadcasts worldwide of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 by producing a high-definition digital television (HDTV) signal.

According to the Xinhua News Agency, China plans to initiate the following steps:

Finish testing the technical standards for terrestrial transmission within 2002;

Publicize national standards for digital cable TV transmission by end of 2002;

Publicize national standards for digital terrestrial television and other related standards by the end of 2003;

Decide what digital television system the country will adopt by the end of 2003;

Strive to promote digital TV broadcasts in cities where conditions are ripe in 2005;

Transmit the Beijing Olympic Games using HDTV and to begin digital TV commercial broadcasts in major cities in 2008;

Replace the analogue system with the digital system nationwide by 2015.

According to numerous sources, the United States has begun provisioning digital television system and will saturate the use of digital television throughout their country by the year 2006 and the EU by 2012.

Digital TV provides complete digitalization process of the production, editing, signal transmission and reception to be displayed to viewers. The most obvious feature that is apparent is the broadcasting of higher definitive imaging, resulting in sharp pictures.

Ironically, this new technology has its share of challenges. Most television stations must replace nearly all of their equipment that has been used for analogue broadcasts. Viewers will need to have either a newer telivision that supports the new technology or a compatible converter box in order to view the types of programs being provided.

China started the development of digital TV in the early 1990s and now has made remarkable achievements, Xinhua said.

China's 1.3 billion people own 230 million TV sets, receiving programmes from 1,000 TV channels.

In December 2000, the Hong Kong government issued a consultation paper for the development of digital terrestrial broadcasting in the territory.

The government opted to wait for the mainland's decision on which digital TV system it would adopt, so it could use the same system.

Asia Television Limited (ATV) and Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), the two existing free-to-air terrestrial broadcasters in Hong Kong, earlier warned the SAR government against formulating digital TV policies without knowledge of what technology the mainland would adopt.

They also urged the government to place priority on smooth transition from analogue to digital TV. (Yun NI)