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October 8, 2015

Maldives Adopts Japan's Standard Digital Broadcasting Terrestrial (ISDB-T) System
JICA's expert on digital TV returns to Male after 35 years

Maldives has joined the global trend of making the transition from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial TV Broadcasting. This conversion is a result of the agreement reached at the Regional Radio-communication Conference (RRC)-6 held by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in May, 2006, to changeover Terrestrial TV Broadcasting from Analogue to Digital by the year 2015.

In keeping with this ruling, the Government of the Republic of Maldives developed the Road Map for Digital Terrestrial TV Broadcasting Transition, with the cooperation of ITU.

In April 2014, His Excellency Mr. Yameen, the President of the Republic of Maldives, visited Japan and signed the joint statement with His Excellency Mr. Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, to adopt the Japanese Standard "Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting Terrestrial (ISDB-T) System" for its national terrestrial TV Broadcasting. Prime Minister Abe welcomed the political leadership of President Yameen and announced that Japan would dispatch a survey mission for the purpose of identifying possible avenues to assist in the introduction of the ISDB-T system in the Maldives.

This paved the way for a JICA survey team of experts to conduct a Preparatory Survey commencing on 5th October 2015, to design the outline for the Maldives Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting Network Development Project. The JICA team then held a series of discussions with the Government of the Republic of Maldives on topics such as the outline of the project, roles and responsibilities of each side, details of the scheme and schedules of the survey.

On 8th October 2015, Honorable Minister of Home Affairs Mr. Naseer and the Team Leader of JICA survey team, Mr. Tateyama, signed and exchanged the Minutes of Discussion, which illustrated the necessary steps and procedures for the survey and project implementation.

In line with this survey, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) invited Mr. Yoshiki Maruyama an expert on digital terrestrial TV broadcasting to join the discussions. Mr. Maruyama first started work as an engineer in the Japan Educational Television, which is now, the renowned TV Asahi. He was first dispatched to TV Maldives as a JICA Expert on Broadcasting Engineering from 1980 to 1981. Recently, Maruyama worked in Chile as a JICA Expert for 3 years to give necessary advice on digital terrestrial TV broadcasting engineering. Maruyama completed his assignment in Chile, but remains committed to promoting ISDB-T standard overseas.

Maruyama's second visit to Maldives as a JICA expert happened 35 years after his first visit. He was astonished to see the development and remarkable metamorphosis of Male compared to his first visit.

During his stay in 1980, Maruyama had to use rainwater for drinking purpose as well as for bathing. During the rainy season, he could enjoy fresh water, however, in the dry season; he struggled with mosquitoes. He remembered how there was no hot water for showers or imported food. He then had to take cold showers and eat only local food.

TV Maldives that Maruyama knew then is now the Public Service Media (PSM) and he was impressed with the unchanged outlook of the TV station. It was a remarkable sight for him to see the studios, transmission tower as well as analogue transmitters, were the same as the old days.

Most of the colleagues he worked with in the 1980s have retired and he found only 5 staff members from the past were still working in PSM. Fortunately, Maruyama met with one former colleague who remembered well the early working days with him. "I am so happy to revisit Male after 35 years and I am at a loss for words. I didn't expect to reunite with my old colleagues before I came, and the meetings moved me so much," Maruyama said. "I wish the digitalization of TV broadcasting in Maldives goes smoothly."

Countries that adopted ISDB-T system smoothly transit their terrestrial TV broadcasting from Analogue to Digital through the technical and institutional support provided by the Japanese Government. The Government of Maldives, especially, the Communications Authority of Maldives (CAM), under the Ministry of Home Affairs, expects Japan's contribution will make a smooth transit from analogue to digital TV broadcasting. Further, CAM is also looking forward to receiving the Emergency Warning Broadcasting System, a special feature of ISDB-T system.

The study is expected to be completed next year. If the necessary arrangements proceed as on schedule, the Digital Switch Over (DSO) will commence area by area, to start the digital terrestrial TV broadcasting in the Maldives by 2018.

PhotoMaruyama made a visit to Public Service Media after 35 years.

PhotoMaruyama gave technical trainings to Maldivians at control room (Year 1980)

PhotoMaruyama and his colleagues (Year 1980)

PhotoSigning of the Minutes of Discussions on the Preparatory Survey for the Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting Network Development Project. (Center left, Mr. Tateyama, Team Leader of the Survey Team and Center Right, Honorable Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Naseer)

PhotoMaruyama showed his pictures of 1980 to media.


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