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Ministry’s plan for full conversion to digital television gives way to Covid

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Motorists ride past Apsara TV station in Phnom Penh’s Boueng Keng Kang district. Hean Rangsey

Ministry’s plan for full conversion to digital television gives way to Covid

The much-anticipated transition from analogue to digital television would provide a wide range of media products for the general public but would also impact other areas, according to a senior Ministry of Information official.

Phos Sovann, the ministry’s director-general of information and broadcasting, told The Post on March 22 that converting to a digital system would provide richer and faster information with higher quality pictures and sound.

“TV broadcasting in the analogue format means that one channel can only broadcast one programme, but when converted to digital, four to five programmes can be broadcast according to the size we want,” he said.

Sovann said however that converting from analogue to digital would affect some users, especially those living in border areas. He explained that it would require changes to existing televisions, construction of television stations, and there would also be the issue of frequency in those areas.

Sovann said the first problem when switching to digital would affect some users because their televisions still use an analogue receiver. So, officials need to find ways to make the digital technology usable on all televisions.

“When switching to digital broadcasting, people could throw away old TVs and buy a new one. Otherwise, we have to figure out what equipment needs to be added to old TVs so they can continue to work,” he said.

Another problem is the construction of television stations, which involve the use of standard frequencies appropriate to Cambodia.

“The establishment of stations means that the use of International Telecommunication Union frequency is limited on many televisions. We need to study how strong or weak its impact will be on our country,” he said.

The last point to consider when switching to digital is to re-examine the frequency that Cambodia has used at the border with neighbouring countries, he added.

“There’s no problem for the central region, but how about border areas such as Koh Kong, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey and Svay Rieng provinces? ... So we need to decide on the appropriate frequency,” he said.

Sovann said that originally, the ministry had planned to complete installation within three years from 2020, but Covid-19 has delayed implementation.

“The project was planned to be completed in 2023. According to the plan, we need to spend nearly $300 million. In the first phase, we plan one platform at a cost of nearly $100 million in 28 locations across the country,” he said.

In an announcement on March 22, the ministry said this does not mean that analogue services would be shut down immediately but would rather continue to operate in parallel with digital TV at some level.

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