SINGAPORE: All of MediaCorp's seven free-to-air channels will go fully digital by December 2013.
Four of the channels (Channel 5, Channel 8, Suria and Vasantham) will also be transmitted in high definition by then, while the remaining three (Channel NewsAsia, Okto and Channel U) will be in high definition by 2016.
The move marks another milestone in Singapore's roadmap in making the digital switchover, where analogue signals will be completely switched off by 2020. This is in line with ASEAN's agreed timeframe.
Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Yaacob Ibrahim made the announcement at the opening ceremony of the Infocomm Media Business Exchange held at the Marina Bay Sands on Tuesday morning.
He said the move is made possible with the adoption of a new digital broadcasting standard known as DVB-T2 (Digital Video Broadcasting - Second Generation Terrestrial).
Dr Yaacob said digital TV not only offers better image and sound quality but also frees up scarce spectrum for other services such as wireless broadband.
To enjoy digital TV, the Media Development Authority said no action is required from those who currently subscribe to pay-TV with StarHub or SingTel, as they already receive the channels digitally.
Those without pay-TV can continue using their current TV sets but they will need to purchase an antenna and a DVB-T2 digital receiver.
However there is no need to rush for the receivers now, as they are likely to be made available in Singapore only from March or April 2013.
MDA said even when the free-to-air channels are transmitted digitally at the end of 2013, analogue transmissions will continue. The simulcast period is to give ample time for viewers to make the necessary adjustments to embrace digital TV.
Currently, about 4 in 10 households in Singapore do not subscribe to pay-TV. Among those who do, many have secondary TV sets that are not linked to a pay-TV service. For these two groups, they will need to purchase a DVB-T2 receiver and an antenna, and hook these to each of their current TV sets.
Without these, viewers will not be able to receive the free-to-air channels on their TV sets once analogue signals are switched off.
It is understood that the DVB-T2 receivers can cost between S$60 and S$100.
MDA said the picture quality and size that viewers receive will differ depending on the type of TV set. To reap the full benefits of digital TV and the high definition channels that will be transmitted, viewers may want to opt for a new digital HDTV set.
MDA said the adoption of the DVB-T2 standards comes after a successful trial conducted last year with MediaCorp and pay-TV operator StarHub. The trial, which involved some 500 households in Ang Mo Kio and Bedok, showed that DVB-T2 was suitable for Singapore's urbanised environment.
MDA said it will be working closely with MediaCorp, major manufacturers and electronics stores on an educational campaign to help consumers prepare for the digital switchover.
MediaCorp said: "As the planned switchover to digital broadcasting is scheduled to complete only by December 2013, we will make an announcement when more details become available towards the second half of next year."
Till then, viewers can attain more information on this website.