International airwaves roundup

China begins initial digital television test

A scheduled trial run of digital broadcast service commenced Sept. 1 in Beijing with three digital TV channels going on the air.

The trial is scheduled to last for three months and is seen as the first step on a 12 year journey that will see the replacement of analog television broadcast with digital service nationwide.

China’s plan for digital television calls for 30 million viewers to receive digital service by 2005. Five years later, digital television will be the dominant service and by 2015 analog service will be discontinued, according to officials.

The initial test channels air soap operas, music programming and shopping services. More channels are planned for the future.

Pakistan cuts license fees as part of effort to add TV broadcasters

The Pakistan government has announced that it will cut its broadcast license fee in half and reduce the fee it charges cable operators by 80 percent.

The move is seen as an attempt on the part of the government to promote the growth of new television channels.

According to Sheik Rashid Ahmad, Pakistan’s Federal Information Minister, a need exists in Pakistan for 25 new television stations, particularly to provide those living in remote areas of the country with television programming.

The minister also announced that participants in a recent meeting of the Organization of Islamic Countries discussed the launch of digital television service in Islamic countries, although no further details were available.

New Zealand officials say time is now for digital television, seek industry input

Government officials in New Zealand have urged the television industry to establish a group to make plans for the changeover from analog to digital free-to-air television service.

New Zealand, which put its digital television plans on hold in the late ‘90s, is ready to commence its planning for digital service now that other broadcasters around the world have acquired experience with digital transmission, said Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey.

A joint statement issued by Maharey and Associate Minister of Communications David Cunliffe identified the primary impediment to the digital transition was the need for a business model that made sense. The ministers called on the television industry to assemble a group to develop a plan that addressed the business model and other digital service issues.

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