Digital Switchover;Helping People Adapt
Digital Switchover;Helping People Adapt
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  • 승인 2010.11.11 13:44
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The Lee Myung-bak government announced that there will be a change in

national broadcast systems. The government has mandated that national

stations like KBS, MBC, and SBS must switchover to digital broadcasting

by 2012. This mandate is based on the 'Special Law of Switchover to Digital TV

of Terrestrial TV.' The main content of the law dictates that analog TV systems

must switch to a digital format. One of the effects of this policy is that jobs will be

created. Therefore, policies dealing with this service will have a great effect on

the nation. However, we found a gap between the policies involved and the reality

of the situation. The government publicizes that digital service will be more cost

efficient for the consumers. However, they are insufficient support policies for low

income groups. Furthermore, there are problems related to legislation and issues

with electronics companies. This article will focus on criticism of poorly planned

policies and deals with the direction of this policy in the future.Observer



Significant Issues Dealing with the Digital


'Digital switchover' refers to broadcast systems

changing to high definition and sound quality TV. This

process is also referred to as digitalization. The main

proponents of this process, are the government and

DTV Korea, which is part of the Korea Communication

commission. Digital TV provides picture definition and

sound quality that is 7 times clearer than analog TV.

Another significant change brought on by the digital

switchover is that broadcast companies will be able to

manage their frequency more efficiently. For example,

they will provide broadcasting public service

information and two-way services. TV is one of the main

sources of information for the general public.

Broadcasting companies will have a greater influence

and opinion shaping power with this system. This

process will also require many improvements in

infrastructure which will create jobs. Once all of the

work is finished, the Korea Communications

Commission executive committee will have enough

frequency(108 MHz) to deliver better broadcast.

Even with all of the potential benefits that could come

from this switchover, awareness of the relevant facts

dealing with it is greatly lacking. Only 16.3 percent of

citizens who responded to a survey were aware of the

fact that the switchover will be finished in the first half

of 2010. These results show that the general public in

Korea is not well informed. In contrast, in Japan which

is scheduled to complete its switchover by July 2011,

97.7 percent of the public is aware of and has accepted

digitalization. In the U.K over 90 percent over the public

is aware and supports the digital switchover. The

success the UK and Japan has had in keeping their

citizens informed about the benefits of digitalization

proves that it is possible, and the government must

make a greater effort to inform and gain the support of

the public.

There are two ways to switchover from analog TV. One

way is to install a digital converter. Most converters cost

from 70,000 won to 100,000 won. The other way is to buy

a digital TV. Digital TVs can be bought for as little as

300,000 won. The cost is low because these TVs were

produced to help low income groups. This situation is

similar to the switchover to color televisions from blackand-

white TVs in the past. The world has started to

recognize the inefficiency of analog broadcast systems,

therefore most developed countries are either already

finished with digitalization or are in the process of

finishing it.


Public relations must receive greater attention in

order to gain the support of the people. The government

has not effectively publicized many of the benefits of

digitalization such as the low cost of the systems. They

have mainly focused on the merits of the switchover

work. Due to the government’s poor publicity people

can become confused. The government has to explain

the reasons why they are trying to expand the digital

switchover work.

The lack of publicity can be traced back to a cut in the

budget for public relations. The original support budget

was set at 14 billion won, but it was cut to 2.5 billion

won because of the Four River Restoration Project and

the financial crisis. Compared to Japan, Korea’s support

for low income classes is not sufficient. Japan provides

low income groups with 12,400,000,000 won. Korea had

also prepared a support program, but the Ministry of

Strategy and Finance decided to provide for the lowest

income groups only. Under the current program the

ministry will give assistance to 810,000 people. The

ministry has prepared a total budget of 60,800,000,000

won for this purpose. The government has entrusted

the Korea Communications Commission to run the

program. Therefore, the Commission has prepared

220,800,000,000 won separately from the ministry. This

budget includes providing low income groups with

coupons. Once the people have the coupons, they can

go to appliance stores that sell digital converters. The

government will give 100 thousand won to people who

don’t have digital converter coupons. Even though these

funds are provided by the government, it is not enough

to buy a new digital TV. Another difficulty is that senior

citizens who live alone usually are not familiar with

social activities, and they have difficulties understanding

digitalization. Therefore, the government and private

organizations need to publicize the installation process.

There are also some legislative problems. According

to 'the Special Law of Switchover to Digital TV', KBS can

raise TV licensing fees related to industry costs. Based

on the special law, licensing fees can be raised from

2000 to 4,500 won. There are many people who oppose

the special law and are fighting against it.

Licensing fees have been a controversial issue for a

long time in Korea.

Another problem directly impacts electronics

companies. The companies have to join DTV Korea and

pay fees in order to sell their products. However, no

companies have joined DTV Korea because if companies

join, they have to cover conversion costs. Companies are

concerned that if they join and are forced to pay

conversion costs it could eat into their profits by raising

the cost to make appliances. These companies

shouldn’t only consider their own benefit. They need to

strive to enhance digital switchover work by 2012. The

companies should provide cheaper general TVs to the

public help with the switchover process.

One of the final issues affecting the digital switchover

deals with some misinformation that is being put out by

the cable broadcasting companies. They cable

companies have falsely publicized their role in

digitalization, as well as misrepresented what is

required to comply with the digital switchover.

Community antennas are only necessary for

apartments and one is sufficient for the entire building.

Some of the information being put out by the cable

companies suggests that a community antenna is

necessary for everyone. The cable companies are also

using their position in the switchover to take the

opportunity to raise licensing fees.






With Young-Joon Lee, KBS PD

Q) What is the significance of the digital switchover work in


A) The Lee Myung-bak government, Korea Communication

Commission, KBS, SBS and MBC broadcasters strive to

successfully complete digitalization work by December

31st 2012. This work is based on the Special Law of

Switchover to Digital TV. This work can offer improved

definition, a greater variety of channels, and

communications in Dolby surround. It is the opening of the

age of interactive TV.

Q) The cost of the programs related to this work for low

income groups is very high. Is it really necessary to do all

of the work, or is it really just for the benefit of big


A) The digital switchover is national work. The U.S.A carried

out this work in 2009, and the U.K, Japan, and Europe are

implementing digital work as a national service. In the

rapid age of communications and broadcasting, analog

systems are outdated. From the view point of broadcasters,

work related to digitalization is a government project, and

the government will spend one trillion won to change

facilities and equipment. Therefore, it has nothing to do

with the profits of companies.

Q) Since people don’t know much about digital work, are

there concrete plans for improving publicity?

A) The government’s publicity efforts have focused on

demonstration locations such as Uljin, but the commission

and government have plans for genuine public relations in

2011. Because of these efforts, people will know a great

deal more about digital switchover work. Broadcast

systems also broadcast and publicize information about the

digital switchover.

Q) What do you think about the impact of the problems

associated with TV licensing fees?

A) Licensing fees in Korea are very low compared with

other similar countries. Even with the proposed increase in

licensing fees they will still be reasonable in comparison to

fees charged in other countries. The licensing fees charged

by KBS are based on broadcasting laws, so it is mandatory

for people with receivers to pay it.

Exhibition Area Uljin

Uljin is an exhibition area for the digital switchover

work. Uljin is the first digital switchover area in Korea.

The exhibition period was orignally from August 8th, to

August 31st, 2010. However, Uljin extended the period by

about a month. The Uljin County Office carfully explained

complex machinery like converters and digital televisions

to elderly people. They also installed converters in the

homes of disabled people. The county office also provided

a subsidy of about 100,000 won to lower-income groups

instead of offering converters which helped to supply

digital TV. This sounds great, but the United States’

subsidy was equivalent to about 400,000 won per person.

Uljin rented converters to residents for three years and

only asked for one year’s deposit. Households which are

not able to afford a digital converter will be given a

converter. The results of the exhibition showed us many

shortcomings of the national digital switchover. The

biggest problem is that the committee and the

government did not effectively inform the public; however,

they also didn't prepare some converters. This problem

can highlight how the people and government

organizations don’t communicate.

There are about two years left until analog TV systems

are a thing of the past. However, it is not a long time

because of the various problems that exist. For

example, supporting low income groups, disinterest in

digital switchover work, complex laws, and TV licensing

fees. The most important issue to deal with is the

problems faced by low income groups. The government

should provide educational programs as well as

material assistance. For instance, local governments

have to educate low income people and seniors which

will help them to adapt to the digital switchover work.

Many problems can be solved by more harmonious










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