Eyeing 17 million TVs, Philippine broadcaster kicks off tech shift

Eyeing 17 million TVs, Philippine broadcaster kicks off tech shift
This high-rise in the city of Makati, a Manila office district, is one of many developments going up across the country.

MANILA - The Philippines' largest broadcaster on Wednesday night activated free-to-air digital transmissions, triggering the nation's shift away from analog TV.

ABS-CBN carried out the launch barely two months after the government firmed up rules for the transition to digital broadcasting using Japan's technological standard, dubbed Integrated Services Digital Broadcast-Terrestrial.

ABS-CBN at the same time started selling "black boxes" for 2,500 pesos ($56.25). The devices are meant to replace the analog antennas installed on 17 million TVs around the country, allowing them to receive the free digital broadcasts. Subscribers to pay-TV services already get digital feeds.

The broadcaster has so far spent at least 3 billion pesos on digital transmission infrastructure in viewer-packed Mega Manila -- a term for the broad area encompassing the capital. The company is attempting to achieve a clearer signal in the region.

Chief Financial Officer Rolando Valdueza told reporters that the company is ready to spend 600 million pesos more this year to expand its digital coverage.

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