Brazil Adopts Japan Digital TV Standard

Brazil is on the verge of adopting a high-definition digital television system based on the Japanese standard, choosing it over the standards used in Europe and the United States, the government said Saturday.

Brazil and Japan sealed a technical agreement on the deal Friday, but it won't be finalized until an expected announcement next week by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the official Agencia Brasil news service reported.

Communications Minister Helio Costa said the Japanese ISDB-T standard was selected in part because it is easier to send TV signals to cellular phones with it than with other systems.

Latin America's most populous country has more than 90 million cell phone users, and the number continues to rise as poor and working class Brazilians who have never had fixed line phones choose to use cell phones only. The nation also has the planet's fifth-largest cell phone market, behind China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

A memorandum on the digital standard signed earlier this year between the Brazil and Japan called for Japanese firms to train local staff and allow Brazilian companies to use the technology without paying royalties.

Brazil last year abandoned its attempt to create its own digital TV system because of high costs. The country then returned to negotiations with various international groups to find the best system for its more than 120 million television viewers.

With more televisions than refrigerators per household, Brazil is an attractive market for Japan, which has invested about US$3 billion (euro2.4 billion) in the ISDB-T system, or Terrestrial Integrated Services Digital Broadcast.

The digital TV system provides better images and sound than existing analog signals, as well as an option to access the Internet.

Brazil hopes to start putting the new system in place this year, and plans to spread the technology to the country of more than 185 million within 15 years.