The BRIC That Could: How Brazil Is Changing Your TV

Europe sneers at their technology.
US’s DTV transition passed them by.
BBC’s intelligentsia never noticed them.
No consumer electronics industry to match Asia;
neighbors don’t speak their language.

So how did Brazil become a world leader in digital TV?

And why the tip of the hat to Brazil DTV middleware leader TQTVD, to whom I am currently consulting?

Last week, the international press group Reuters broke the story that “Argentina adopts  Japanese digital TV standard“, but the Buenos Aires Herald got the local angle right: “Argentina adopts Brazil’s digital TV standard” — illustrated no less with a photo captioned “Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner kiss following the signing formality on adoption of a new TV standard”.

Agentina adopts Brazil ISDB

The ceremony also closed a decade’s long good-bye to the US ATSC Forum’s efforts to promote the erstwhile US digital TV standard in Argentina, South America’s 2nd largest economy, as a lynchpin to an international adoption campaign, (note to US FCCsell free TV to US first, straighten out the DTV patent mess, and connect the dot from TV to broadband).

“Que País é Esse?” (What is this country after all?) is the sui generis puzzle that BRIC watchers grapple with when this techno-politico-economic chameleon of contradictions fails to fit facile notions more easily papered from afar onto the other BRICers Russia, India, and China.  Aligned yet non-aligned, democratic with a unique heritage of monarchy, an independent cultural stew yet not a melting pot.  Moderate leadership begets confusing headlines.

dso2-threetransitionsAmong BRIC DTV strategies, Brazil so far has dodged the DTV interoperability mess sold to India by foreign technology providers with a penny-wise-pound-foolish agenda, more carefully charted its own technological contributions onto the world stage than China’s AVS group, and partnered more effectively with Japan than Russia did with France forty years ago in validating France’s SECAM TV standards gambit.

Indeed, on some fronts Brazil is tracking to the UK, the world DTV thought leader and itself a crucible of DTV contradictions.  Brazil’s interactive middleware, Ginga, is a step in the right direction ahead of UK’s MHEG standard, and BBC’s culture-for-everyman could learn a thing or two from TV Globo and other Brazilian broadcasters (long waits worth it to download English language teasers here to feel the universal appeal of “India: A Love Story” or “Seven Sins”).indiaalovestory

The national digital TV industry group, SBTVD Forum, has a similar profile to the UK’s Digital Terrestial Group.  Even bringing parallel howls of protest from pay TV operators waking up to the prospect that free-to-view TV may not die in the digital TV transition after all.

What’s next?  No need to add to broadcasting’s global mantra — coming soon to a broadband TV near you — stay tuned!