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PLDT launches Cignal Digital TV

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Mediaquest Holdings Inc., the media investment arm of the PLDG Group of Companies, launched on July 14, 2009 the Cignal Digital TV, which broadcasts digital and high definition pay TV channels nationwide through satellite.  Cignal Digital TV is the latest subscription-based direct-to-home satellite television service provider using the NSS-11 satellite of New Skies Satellite, according to Fernandez.

Benjie Fernandez, managing director of Mediaquest, said the company has so far invested P650 milion for Cignal, and will spend another P350 million towards the end of the year.

"We aim to reach a market of 2 million households in the Philippines that are not served by cable TV providers," Fernandez said.  Cignal will compete directly with Dream Satellite TV and GSAT, which also broadcasts through satellite.  "What makes us different is that we have quality channels and affordable cost.  We also offer three high definition channels," he said.

Fernandez clarified that Cignal does not compete with cable TV providers, but only seeks to complement them.  Mediaquest has a minority interest in Central CATV, which owns SkyCable.

He said Cignal is on standard definition format, while most cable operators are still on analog format.  

Cignal Basic, with 20 standard definition channels, is available for a one time fee of P4,700 for set top box, satellite dish and cables and cignal card, an installation fee of P1,000, and a monthly sevice fee of P390.

Cignal Combo, which has two cignal high definition channels plus the Cignal Basic, is available for a one time fee of P4,800, an installation fee of P1,000, and a monthly service fee of P790.

Cignal HD offers two high definition channels - Voom, History Channel, and Playhouse Disney.  Fernandez said another five or six HD channels will be introduced in the coming months.

SkyCable was the first to broadcast HD channels in the Philippines, namely Discovery Channel HD and History Channel HD.

"This signals a new milestone in Philippine TV," Mediaquest president Orlando Vea said, during the formal launching of Cignal at the NBC Tent in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City on Tuesday night.

“This marks a significant milestone for the Philippine television industry. Cignal with its Cignal HD and Cignal Digital TV is the most aggressive initiative thus far to bring digital television to more Filipinos all over the country,” said Manuel Pangilinan, chairman of Mediascape and the PLDT Group “We are once more at the cutting edge of innovation, offering the next generation of advanced services to our people.”

MediaQuest has partnered with TV set manufacturers Sony Bravia and JVC.  “The growing awareness of HD technology here in the Philippines has increased customer appreciation for our Sony BRAVIA full HD TVs,” said Sony Philippines vice president Takashi Kozu.

“It is our pleasure to fulfill the local demand for Sony BRAVIA TVs as we offer the HD television with the most number of eco-friendly features with the Sony Bravia WE5, the Ultimate Sports TV, Sony Bravia Z450), and the world’s first 240HZ Motionflow technology,” he said.

JVC general manager Paul Santos said more and more consumers would want to fully experience real HD viewing with the latest High Definition product offerings.

"To make them fully appreciate this technology, we have in fact been in talks with Mediascape to provide the latest JVC HD LCDs and Cignal service bundles at very attractive prices," said Santos.

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