Last night I attended a chat in the CFP-SICA (my old film school) about the arrival of digital television in Argentina. Now, TV shows have been filmed for some time in digital formats (from DVCam to Digibeta to HD) but since April the public television stations have been transmitting in digital signals, and by the end of the year the plan is to expand to private television stations and increase the number of broadcast channels available from the current 5 on analog to 40!
Argentina has one of the greatest penetrations of cable television in Latin America, and the use of a digital signal for broadcast TV means that many more household in rural areas will be able to experience broadcast television.
While Digital Television is advancing all over the world, there are two interesting facts about it’s implementation in Argentina:
1) The government will be giving over 1 million free digital conversion boxes to the poorest sectors of society. This is the first time in history that the first benefits of a technological shift have been given to the poor. The box is still not available commercially. The normal cost is about $150 dollars.
2) Argentina, along with Brazil and many other Latin American countries, has adopted the Japanese standard, ISDB, which is considered to be the best technically as it is newer than the US and European formats. It allows for cell phone transmissions (so anyone can watch TV for free on their cell phones without any special devices or paying for air time) as the US norm ATSC does not! And, Brazil and Argentina have improved upon the Japanese standard, and will be broadcasting in Mpeg4, whereas the rest of the world will be broadcasting in Mpeg2 format.
This new standard will open a lot more opportunities for local production companies, as there will be more airtime to fill.
At times like this I am so proud of my adopted country, finally getting something right!