Chile delays decision on digital TV

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SANTIAGO, Chile -- Chile has postponed until March its decision about which digital television standard it will adopt -- Japanese, European or American, government spokesman Francisco Vidal said Monday.

"The president (Michelle Bachelet) has requested more studies, of a technical nature, in order not to err in our decision," Vidal said.

"The decision on digital television, which the government had committed to defining before Dec. 31, that decision and its definition will be postponed," he said.

Bachelet has said the standard chosen will be the one that best fits the country's needs and allows the best access to viewers of nonpaid broadcast television.

The transition period required to implement the digital television standard is estimated to be at least eight years and the government hopes to see the first digital TV signals broadcast in 2010 in Chile's major cities.

Chile has six broadcast television networks; five are private, and one is government-owned.

Paid television service is dominated by cable service provider VTR, a unit of U.S.-based Liberty Global, followed by Spain's Telefonica SA. Satellite service is provided by DirectTV Group Inc.

"March or the end of March would be a better time to know with certainty what decision the government will make ... a decision built on solid technical data," Vidal said.
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