History beckons as Langkawi first in country to embrace digital TV broadcast

LANGKAWI, July 21 (NNN-Bernama) — By the early hours of tomorrow, history will be created in the nation’s broadcasting industry when analogue TV broadcasting will cease services on this legendary island and viewers here will be the first in the country to switch to digital TV services.

Digital Creation and Distribution Platform Department chief of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), Azlina Mohd Yusof, said analogue TV transmission from Gunung Raya will shut down at 2.30am tomorrow and will be replaced by myFreeview Digital Broadcasting coverage with better broadcast quality.

The move is in line with the government’s plan to migrate from analogue to the digital system by the third quarter of this year.

Langkawi was chosen as the first zone in the country to cease analogue TV broadcast because the island has a robust digital TV ecosystem where digital TV coverage was comprehensive, Azlina said.

Those who stand to immediately benefit from the coverage are low-income earners eligible under the government’s ‘Bantuan Sara Hidup’ (BSH) financial aid, who were recently presented withe free decoders.

Azlina said Langkawi’s analogue TV transmitter, belonging to Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) and Media Prima, would be shut down and replaced by myFreeview Digital TV transmitters.

“Geographically, Langkawi has no hilly areas, so it does not require more TV transmitters. To cover the area, MYTV Broadcasting Sdn Bhd has provided direct-to-home coverage to ensure digital TV broadcast to populated areas. As such, MCMC does not expect to encounter major problems once analogue TV broadcasting ceases in Langkawi, ” she said in an exclusive interview with Bernama.

Azlina also noted that Malaysia was the third country in the ASEAN region to shut down analogue broadcasting after Brunei in 2017 and Singapore this year.

“MCMC is ready for this change through intensive efforts carried out since 2015 and recent positive feedback has given the MCMC the confidence to shut down analogue TV broadcasts.

“We have also found that people are aware of myFreeview Digital Broadcasts and are ready to migrate (to digital broadcasts) at any time,” she said.

Asked on the direct impact of digital broadcasts on the broadcasting industry and the country’s economy, Azlina said the broadcasting industry was looking forward to closing down analogue broadcasts as its TV transmitters were old with limited capabilities, besides high maintenance of equipment as there were no spare parts in the market.

“As for broadcasters, they can now continue to focus on content development as there is no investment needd yet for infrastructure.

At the same time, the country’s economy will also be more vibrant as the 700MHz spectrum can now be used for LTE and 5G services. There will be more job opportunities for the people in the booming field of content development and applications,” Azlina said.

Based on RTM and Media Prima’s investments in Digital TV equipment and production studio technology since 2013, she also expressed confidence that industry players, especially broadcasters, were ready to migrate to the Digital TV coverage.