The Chinese government finally released its digital TV
terrestrial transmission standard yesterday, but time is needed for
digital terrestrial broadcasting to become a significant business
in the world's largest TV market.
The Standardization Administration of China's website carried
the proposal for the transmission standard, which was approved on
August 18 as the compulsory national standard, coming into effect
from August 1 next year.
Along with 3G mobile communications, the digitalization of
China's broadcasting is regarded as a lucrative market, which could
be worth over 1 trillion yuan (US$125 billion). Therefore, it will
form a key area in which a Chinese standard will cut royalty
payments and assume an advantageous position in the global
Digital TV broadcasting takes place in three ways -- cable,
satellite and terrestrial, with China mainly following
international standards in the first two areas.
Cable broadcasting is the only major transmission format
currently used in China, as the terrestrial standard was not
decided until August 18 and satellites for direct broadcasting have
yet to be launched.
At the end of last year, only 4 million households across the
nation had access to digital cable TV broadcasting, with the number
expected to reach 10 million this year.
However, more than 400 million households with TV sets and only
128 million had access to cable TV at the end of last year, meaning
that the majority of digital TV transmissions are expected to rely
on the terrestrial method.
China began to develop its own terrestrial transmission standard
in 2001. Proposals made by Tsinghua University and Shanghai
Jiaotong University were later merged into a final draft
The Shanghai version borrowed some principles from the US
standard and is suitable for transmission in sparsely populated
remote areas, while the Tsinghua proposal is based on the same
modulation method as current and future mobile communication
standards and has its own patents, cutting royalty costs.
Zeng Huiming, editor of the Radio and TV Information
magazine, said the standard came out late because of the compromise
process, but this delay does not pose a problem since China has
just started to promote the terrestrial transmission model.
He believed that an essentially Chinese version of the standard
would not pose a serious threat to foreign equipment manufacturers,
as many of them were already involved in the Chinese proposals and
time remains for them to adapt to the new standard.
Sun Min, vice president and board secretary of Tsinghua Tongfang
Co Ltd, agreed: "This is just a beginning with this standard. The
real commercial benefits still depend on future development."
Sun's company, a flagship enterprise of Tsinghua University, is
believed to be a major beneficiary of the Tsinghua standard. He
said his firm had been working on some transmission and network
construction trials, but these remain in their infancy.
(China Daily August 31, 2006)