[RECIFE] Brazil may develop its own system of digital television technology rather than importing such a system from abroad (as several of its Latin American neighbours have already done), if a proposal by the country’s minister of communications, Miro Teixeira, is accepted.
Digital television has not yet been introduced into Brazil, the country with the world's sixth largest television audience — even though foreign companies have been lobbying the Brazilian government for several years to adopt digital systems used abroad, such as those used in Europe, the United States and Japan.
But Teixeira has proposed to the Brazilian president, Luis Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva that Brazil should develop and adopt its own technology, arguing that this would allow the country to adapt the technology to its social and economic needs.
In an official briefing to the president, Teixeira suggested that Brazil should manufacture its own televisions and related equipment, such as adapters and receivers, in order to boost its semiconductor industry and to generate royalties for national institutions.
The government has already created a consortium bringing together 10 research centres and a private company that will jointly conduct research on digital television technology. But so far there is no fixed date for the research to begin.
Teixeira's proposal is likely to meet with opposition in the Brazilian parliament from individuals that favour the European, Japanese or US systems, although at present there is no consensus on which of these three would be most appropriate for the country.
The Brazilian Association of Radio Television Engineers and Engineering Television Society, for example, is already suggesting that the Japanese system — known as Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting (ISDB) — is best suited to Brazil's broadcast infrastructure.
But others argue that using the US system — which has already been adopted by both Chile and Argentina — would stimulate substantial investment from broadcasting companies wanting to capture the vast Brazilian audience could boost diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Teixeira argues that relying on foreign models — whether European, Japanese or US — would mean that Brazil would have to pay expensive royalties and licences. "We would be technically dependent on them, and that would lead to negative effects on our commercial activity," he says.
The government is expected to make a decision on which system to adopt — and put an end to three years of debate on the issue — by the end of this year.