Korea sticks with ATSC digital TV standard

The South Korean Ministry of Information and Communication announced that, after serious consideration of the European DVB-T standard for digital television broadcasting, it has chosen to move forward with the U.S. digital TV standard as scheduled.

In addition to America, the U.S. DTV standard, developed by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) in 1996, has been adopted by Canada (November 8, 1997), South Korea (November 21,1997), Taiwan (May 8, 1998), and Argentina (October 22, 1998).

"Disputes about which standard is better for Korea are meaningless at this point, and there is no reason to change the standard," You Pil-kye, chief of the Radio and Broadcasting Bureau at the Information Ministry, told the Korea Herald newspaper. “Three years have passed since the nation began to broadcast digital TV programs based on the U.S. standard, and if we change it, the damage will be far greater than expected.”

In 1997, South Korea had finalized a plan to adopt the American digital broadcasting standard that was developed by the ATSC. The government decision was met with significant criticism by a number of broadcasters, including major broadcaster MBC, which led a strong opposition or DVB-T proponents.

Earlier this month, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and other leading digital TV set manufacturers placed large ads in local newspapers, expressing their opinion in favor of the U.S. digital broadcasting standard. Korean manufacturers have sold 1.5 million digital TVs to local consumers between early 1999 and August this year. Thus, one out of ten households own U.S.-standard digital TV sets.

The English-language Korean newspaper also quoted You Pil-kye as saying that the U.S. standard works better in terms of coverage, while the European standard requires more broadcasting relay stations. The ATSC digital TV standard supports terrestrial, SD and HD broadcasting, while the European standard is generally optimized for mobile reception devices.

For more information visit the Advanced Television Systems Committee and The Korea Herald.

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