PETALING JAYA: Puncak Semangat Sdn Bhd has beaten two other players to win the rights to build and manage the digital infrastructure for digital terrestrial broadcast (DTTB) services in the country.
The two are i-Media Broadcasting Solutions Sdn Bhd and REDtone Network Sdn Bhd, in which the Johor Sultan has a 51% equity stake.
Yesterday, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in a statement named Puncak the winner and said the selection was made after a thorough evaluation process that began in April 2012.
With the award, the remaining bastions of Free-to-Air (FTA) broadcasters in Malaysia will have to move to a fully digital platform, which allows broadcasters to provide more television and radio channels versus the current analogue platforms. Digital technology allows for compression of channels on the same frequency and Puncak will become the common integrated infrastructure provider (CIIP).
Puncak will have to set up a digital multimedia hub and a network of high, medium and low powered digital TV transmitters nationwide that will have the technical capability to carry up to 45 standard definition (SD) or 15 high definition (HD) digital television channels initially.
The migration to digital will be for the current government-owned and private stations namely TV1, TV2, TV3, ntv7, 8TV, TV9, TV Alhijrah and Bernama TV.
The first roll-out of DTTB services is expected by the third quarter of this year in a few test areas, and full nationwide coverage to an estimated 98% populated areas is expected by the end of the analogue-digital simulcast period, which the MCMC did not specify.
The FTA broadcasting covers about 98% of populated areas in the country and is enjoyed by 47% of households while the rest of the population watches TV via satellite and internet platforms.
The MCMC said the winning party will have to fund the project and the market expects Puncak to spend close to RM1bil to build the infrastructure.
Malaysia is among the few countries in the world to implement the CIIP model which ensures cost reductions in conducting a media business by way of optimising the use of broadcasting assets and infrastructure in the country.