Consumer Electronics

Malaysia to pilot nationwide transition from analogue to digital TV transmission

Malaysia is one step closer to going fully digital in terrestrial TV broadcasting. The government today announced the nationwide pilot transition of analogue TV to digital TV transmission in stages until 30 September 2019. This rides on the back of a successful pilot transition held in Langkawi on 21 July 2019.

The official announcement was delivered by Minister of Communications and Multimedia, YB Gobind Singh Deo, held at Kompleks Angkatan Pertahanan Awam Malaysia (APM) in Langkawi earlier today.

First launched in 2017, the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Project is a government initiative to migrate the country’s analogue broadcast system to a full digital implementation. Officially named myFreeview, the service offers the country’s most popular TV and radio channels for free, without any monthly subscription fees.

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MyFreeview is in tandem with the National Broadcast Digitisation Project which aims to elevate the quality of life of Malaysians to be on par with developed nations. The move to digital will also enable the government to utilise the analogue spectrum for other modern communication services like 4G LTE and high-speed broadband.

Malaysia will be the third country in the region to move to an all-digital broadcast system, following Singapore and Brunei. The country is also one of 60 countries in the world to switch over from analogue transmission.

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Currently broadcasting 15 free-to-air TV channels namely TV1, TV2, TVi, TV3, ntv7, 8TB, TV9, TV AlHijrah and Bernama News Channel (BNC), and six radio channels, the government plans to at least double the number in the near future, including interactive services. The move to digital will also benefit content providers in providing another platform for their content with a higher nationwide reach as well as develop new sources of revenue.

MYTV Broadcasting Sdn Bhd was appointed to operate the DTT infrastructure and network; the sole infrastructure provider license holder responsible to build and operate myFreeview for 30 years.

A total of 2.2 million free decoders were contributed by the government and distributed by MYTV to select Malaysians primarily chosen from the Bantuan Sara Hidup Rakyat (BSHR), priority to the lowest income group. 

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Pilot success

The Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Corporation (MCMC) in collaboration with broadcasters successfully implemented a pilot test in Langkawi that kicked off on 21 July 2019. Throughout the pilot test, various education and awareness campaigns were conducted to increase public awareness of the switchover from analogue to digital. 

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According to the MCMC, digital TV has now reached 72,075 people in Langkawi, through transmission of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and Direct to Home (DTH) transmission through satellite service support methods. A spokesperson from the MCMC revealed myFreeview currently covers 98 percent of populated areas—with 95 percent being served via DTT transmission, while the rest using DTH for harder to reach locations. 

The government plans to emulate the success seen in Langkawi by implementing the same model for the nationwide rollout. 

Below are the targeted dates for the transition of pilot analogue TV transmission by region:

RegionPilot Transition Date
Central & South19 August 2019
North2 September 2019
East17 September 2019
Sabah & Sarawak30 September 2019

Making the digital switch

The government is encouraging those still watching analogue TV to make the switch. While the pilot transition dates have been set with the final being on 30 September 2019, Gobind said that the government will only shut analogue TV transmission completely once the people are fully ready to accept the transition. A tentative deadline of “by 2020” was mentioned. 

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All that is required to enjoy digital TV is obtaining a decoder and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) aerial, and have them connected to an existing TV set. An alternative is to buy a new Integrated Digital TV (IDTV) that is equipped with a digital TV tuner and get it connected to a UHF analog aerial.

There are currently 3-4 vendors who make compatible, SIRIM-certified and MCMC-approved decoders in the market with prices ranging from MYR60 to MYR180. The original MYTV DVB-T2 decoder costs MYR299. Decoders can be purchased from the MYTV e-shop, authorised retailers or via online shopping platforms like Lazada and Shopee.

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Gobind in a media Q&A session said the government is aware of compatible but uncertified decoders being sold online. The government has instructed e-commerce platforms to remove these items as well as Android boxes from the marketplace.

Digital TV is part of the government’s effort in bridging the digital divide among the people in the urban, sub-urban and rural areas. The project is in line with the government’s Shared Prosperity concept that will allow the people to enjoy digital TV services for free, without monthly subscription fees.

For more information, visit MYTV.

By Vernon

Vernon is the founder and chief editor of A graphic designer by profession, he has a deep love for technology, cars, gadgets, food, and travel. He tweets too much and is also known as a caffeine bacterium ("life's too short for bad coffee"). Bleeds Blue (go Chelsea FC!) and considers BMW, Porsche, Alfa Romeo cars to have in the garage--for true petrolheads, that is.