Finnish digital set back to end of 2000

Lack of decoders is a problem for Nordic region

AMSTERDAM — The lack of a digital standard in the Nordic territories has pushed back the launch date for Finland’s digital terrestrial platform once again, this time to late 2000.

Heikki Lehmusto, chairman of the digital TV Forum in Finland and executive director of television for Finnish pubcaster YLE, told Daily Variety that Finland did not want a repetition of “the situation in Sweden and other territories,” where digital platforms have been launched despite a lack of decoders.

By law, none of the three digital terrestrial multiplexes licensed for the platform can launch until Sept. 1, 2000, and all three must launch by Sept. 1, 2001. The multiplexes are being built and administered by Digita, a subsidiary of YLE but are being paid for by commercial channels MTV3, Channel Four and other licensed parties.

Lehmusto, reporting on the latest meeting of Digita on Tuesday, said that the lack of a digital standard was “holding up the works,” although he noted that Nordvig, a digital TV forum consisting of all digital players in the Nordic territories, was expected to be out with a standard by year’s end.

“Then the manufacturers can at least begin quoting prices and telling us how long it will take to turn it around,” Lehmusto added.

National spotlight

Originally, YLE had planned to use the Summer Olympics, which begins in mid-September in Australia, as the major showcase for the full-scale launch of the Finnish platform, but Lehmusto said it will be late in the year 2000.

He said testing would continue, and part of that testing would include picking up the signal for the Olympics, but only for a limited number of viewers.

In April, Sweden launched its digital terrestrial platform, but the lack of decoders has made the launch “a pretty disastrous situation,” one media analyst said.

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