The Brazil government has decided to include the Ginga software standard in Brazilian TVs, starting January 2013.

The announcement and decree are translated below.

Multiple news articles in Brazil have covered the run-up to this announcement (links below).  Ginga TV sets have been shipping for some time, but the official certification program is not yet in place, resulting in much debate about roll-out schedule.

As an ongoing consultant to the leading commercial Ginga supplier, TQTVD:

Congratulations to the Brazilian government for its continuing recognition of and commitment to the market-building power of open standards!


Government changes PPB for televisions to include Ginga interactive software


Government changes PPB for televisions to include Ginga interactive software

Brasilia (February 24) – From 2013, the Brazilian interactivity software Ginga must be installed in 75% of televisions with liquid crystal display manufactured in the Manaus Free Zone. Companies that want to start production this year, between July 1 and December 31, may deduct such production from the quota in 2013. The requirement for inclusion of the software increases to 90% of production, from 2014, according to the Ordinance published in the Official Gazette on Monday by the Ministries of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade (MDIC) and of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) .

Ministerial Ordinance No. 140 amends the Basic Productive Process (PPB) that already exists for televisions with liquid crystal display and sets the schedule to be followed by manufacturers for inclusion of Ginga in devices.  It is from the PPB that the government sets the domestic content that a company must meet to be eligible for tax benefits granted to companies established in the Industrial Pole of Manaus and to manufacturers of computer items installed anywhere in the country.

About Ginga

In 2004, the federal government started to promote the development of the Brazilian System of Digital Terrestrial Television (SBTVD-T), which has interactivity as one of its principles. Ginga, software developed by a group of researchers from Brazilian institutions, allows for the operation of interactive applications on TVs and for open source, which does not require royalty payments, and may be adopted by other countries. In Argentina, for example, Lifia (Federal University of La Plata) is providing the software for the government.

Participating in the development of Ginga were researchers at the University of Sao Paulo, Federal University of Pernambuco, Federal University of Paraiba, National Institute of Telecommunications (Inatel), Federal University of Minas Gerais, Coppe-UFRJ and PUC-Rio. The group gave scope to the software specification, now an international standard validated by ITU (International Telecommunication Union) and regulated at the national level by a set of standards of the Brazilian Association of Technical Standards (ABNT).

For the Brazilian government, the implementation of Ginga in digital TV will encourage the interactive software industry in the country and will be an opportunity to connect public policies to support innovation and development of production with value added based on local content. imprensa/visualiza/index.jsp? jornal=1&pagina=2&data=24/02/2012


 THE STATE MINISTERS OF DEVELOPMENT, INDUSTRY AND FOREIGN TRADE and SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION, using the powers conferred on them by section II of the sole paragraph of art. 87 of the Federal Constitution, in view of the provisions of § 6 of art. 7 of the Decree-Law No 288 of February 28, 1967, and considering what is in the MDIC process No. 52000.001749/2002-48 of January 29, 2002, determine:

Article 1. The Interministerial Ordinance MDIC / MCT No. 233, of 16 September 2011, that establishes the Basic Productive Process for the product TV MONITOR WITH LCD SCREEN, industrialized in the Manaus Free Zone, amends art. 9 – A, with the following wording:

“9 – A. The TELEVISIONS WITH LIQUID CRYSTAL DISPLAYS shall incorporate the ability to perform interactive broadcast applications, according to Standards ABNT NBR 15606-1, 15606-2, 15606-3, 15606-4 and 15606-6, obeying the following schedule , taking as basis the total amount produced in the respective periods:

I – until June 30, 2012: exempted;
II – July 1 to December 31, 2012: optional;
III – from January 1 until December 31, 2013: 75% (seventy five percent) of televisions, and
IV – from January 1, 2014: 90% (ninety percent) of televisions.

§ 1 – All models of TVs that make available support for IP connectivity and that implement the interactive middleware must ensure the access of the interactive applications to the communication channels.

§ 2 – The number of interactive televisions produced in the period defined in section II can be deducted, in absolute numbers, from the production required for the period specified in section III, respecting a minimum of 60% (sixty percent) in section III.

§ 3 – From the period specified in section III, the obligation applies to all TVs that provide support for IP connectivity, without consideration to the total percentage of equipment produced.

§ 4 – The resource that is the subject of the heading of this article should come pre-installed, pre-configured and enabled at the factory.

§ 5 – If the percentage set forth for the periods mentioned in sections III and IV of the heading of this article are not achieved, the company will be obliged to meet the residual differences in relation to the minimum percentage established in units produced, until the end of period thereafter, with no impact to the continuing obligations of each period.

§ 6 – The residual difference referred to in § 5 shall not exceed 10% (ten percent), taking as basis the production of the year that did not reach the established limit. ”

Article 2.  This Ordinance shall enter into force on the date of its publication.

State Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade
State Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation


Incorporation of Ginga in TVs is set for January 2013

In 2013, 75% of Brazilian digital TVs will have Ginga,,OI5630577-EI15607,00-Em+das+TVs+digitais+brasileiras+deverao+ter+Ginga.html

TV with Ginga will be mandatory only in 2013

Government gives in and Ginga will only be required in digital TVs starting in 2013

MPEG has issued a press release describing its intent to move forward on developing a royalty-free MPEG standard.

The press release is here, relevant part is below.  The meeting resolution approving the press release is here.

UPDATE:  This press release was picked up in multiple articles, and most interestingly discussed in the Guardian blog by Florian Mueller.

Guardian: Royalty-free MPEG video codec ups the ante for Google’s WebM/VP8
Slashdot: MPEG Continues With Royalty-free MPEG Video Codec Plans
The Register: Google open video codec faces second challenger: VP8 v MPEG v MPEG LA v acronym chaos
The H: MPEG calling for royalty-free web video codec
LWN:  In other news – “MPEG envisages royalty-free MPEG video coding standard”



ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29/WG 11 N11703
January 2011 – Daegu, KR

Source: Convenor of MPEG
Status: Approved by WG11
Subject: MPEG Press Release
Date: 28 January, 2011

MPEG envisages royalty-free MPEG video coding standard

Daegu, KR – The 95th MPEG meeting was held in Daegu, Korea from the 24th to the 28th of January 2011.

Highlights of the 95th Meeting

MPEG anticipates March 2011 CfP for Type-1 Video Coding Standard

MPEG has been producing standards that provide industry with the best video compression technologies. In recognition of the growing importance that the Internet plays in the generation and consumption of video content, MPEG intends to develop a new video compression standard in line with the expected usage models of the Internet. The new standard is intended to achieve substantially better compression performance than that offered by MPEG-2 and possibly comparable to that offered by the AVC Baseline Profile. MPEG will issue a call for proposals on video compression technology at the end of its upcoming meeting in March 2011 that is expected to lead to a standard falling under ISO/IEC “Type-1 licensing”, i.e. intended to be “royalty free”.

Last August I questioned if the BBC-led hybrid DTV Project Canvas was “seduced by the cynical allure of a semi-open ‘standards-based open environment‘” .

Many kudos to the DTG — the lead UK DTV standards group — who today released its tough-love “parallel process” criticism in the BBC Trust oversight consultation.

To wit:  “it is unreasonable for the Canvas JV to claim that they have fully engaged with industry” while running “a parallel process” operated “separately from, and regardless of,” the DTG’s own standards work, with “lack of clarity over the IPR status”.

The BBC Trust should heed the words that “only a mandatory requirement for the Canvas JV to engage with industry to deliver an agreed specification can achieve widespread market success”.

Hang in there, DTG, there’s standards-bashing hiding by behind pragmatic waffling on this side of the pond too.

But to respin a Churchillian quip:  standards are the worst form of industry governance, except for all the rest.


So why shouldn’t Project Canvas also be built on royalty-free standards, advancing rather than opposing the thrust of the Open Internet and World Wide Web that has enabled the Project Canvas opportunity in the first place?

Is the BBC slipping unthinkingly into a common parlance of the day – seduced by the cynical allure of a semi-open “standards-based open environment” — open enough to help me, closed enough to hurt my competitors, with vendor complicity bought by the potential competitive advantage of conveniently under-disclosed patent royalties or other control points?

This is an under-addressed question that the BBC Executive, BBC Trust and proposed joint venture have skirted so far in this consultation, and should be fully addressed before proceeding.  A Free-To-View TV Internet is both a TV and a network stewardship.

[F]eedback from our membership indicates that there remains widespread concern in the industry that there is a parallel process in place – with a Canvas specification being developed between the Canvas JV and its innovation partners separately from, and regardless of, the DTG’s Connected TV specification work.
Without the release of these documents we believe it is unreasonable for the Canvas JV to claim that they have fully engaged with industry via the DTG. The failure by the BBC or the Canvas JV to release this documentation to the DTG has severely impacted upon the ability of the DTG’s Connected TV Working Groups to deliver a Connected TV specification in a timely manner.

DTG members have voiced concern that there is a lack of clarity over the IPR status of Canvas technical documentation. As a result, the DTG’s membership believes that the Trust should make approval of the BBC Executive’s Canvas proposal conditional on the clarification of the precise IPR position of the Canvas commercial requirements, technical documentation and specification.

Feedback we have received from our membership indicates that the consensus among our members is that only a mandatory requirement for the Canvas JV to engage with industry to deliver an agreed specification can achieve widespread market success and represent the best interests of the UK consumers and TV Licence Fee payers.

In late 2001, to much industry enthusiasm, H.264 and MPEG-4 AVC were launched as the world’s unifying codec family in a joint project between ITU and ISO/MPEG with the undertaking that the “JVT [Joint Video Team] will define a “baseline” profile. That profile should be royalty-free for all implementations.”

The failure to deliver on this royalty-free baseline is more than a lively standards history tale.

Years of exhausting disputes and doubts have recently resolved with court rulings soundly vindicating the original royalty-free process and vision.

And now, more than ever, the Web and broadband revolution need these groups to deliver on this 2001 royalty-free undertaking.  And in the coming months, ITU and ISO are poised to begin work on a next generation of codec and transport stream standards.

I have summarized a pro royalty-free viewpoint on how ITU and ISO/MPEG can and should go forward and complete this royalty free undertaking here.

Last week, Business News Americas broke the story that the ATSC Forum — the industry group that lobbies for the international adoption of the US ATSC digital TV standard of the Advanced Television Systems Committee — plans to close its doors at the end of September.

Although the ATSC Forum’s closure has gotten little attention in the US, the story has been picked up in South America, where the ATSC Forum’s lobbying efforts have been swamped by momentum for the Japanese-Brazilian ISDB system (an under-reported story in itself, as some are recognizing).
The ATSC Forum was “established in late 2001 to promote DTV and ATSC standards, especially throughout Latin America”, and has lobbied other countries, including the Philippines, as have rivals European-led DVB and Japanese-led ISDB.  And as quoted below, the Forum has cleverly worded a fantasy strategy to skirt patent fees that will no doubt bring a chuckle on close examination.

Recent strident exception the ATSC Forum has taken to contentions here that there are structurally-flawed patent licensing processes at the heart of ATSC and DTV communities (reiterated below as recently as last month in Haiti, see below), puts an interesting light on the reported reasoning that the ATSC Forum is giving for closing its doors:

“manufacturing companies that represent the ATSC are now less concerned about which digital TV standard the equipment they make represents and so are increasingly less inclined to finance a group advocating one standard or another”.

Really?  Surely, specific patent or commercial interests may be the last standing in an end-game of standards advocacy, particularly when interests are unclearly spread across multiple standards and advocacy groups.

And though the ATSC Forum website does not list which members are sponsors ($25K/year) or just general members ($5K/year), four vendors appear prominent at the website in recent years (Zenith/LG, Samsung, Dolby, and Harris).  Three, as well as the ATSC Forum and the ATSC, have filed in the FCC inquiry on patent royalty overcharging challenged by the CUT FATT group, and Harris, the largest transmission equipment supplier for ATSC, turned against certain patent licensing practices and sided with the CUT FATT group.

But according to government reports, in 2003, the ATSC Forum received $399K in export promotion market development funds from the International Trade Administration of the US Department of Commerce.  Ouch –  patent pool promotion as export trade policy.

Indeed, a 2004 success story at the US Department of Commerce Market Development Cooperator Program website describes the 3-year campaign in optimistic terms, predicting $8 billion in US exports (subsequently revised down to $5.6 million).  And also in terms that likely seemed entirely reasonable at the time, but which now seem vaguely like a fight-the-last-war replay of the 1960s Cold War color TV standards wars — little resembling the new globalization-era, each-country-is-a-partner ethic reflected in the launch of the new ISDB-T International Forum web site for South America.

And in 2007, the US National Association of Broadcasters funded a mobile TV initiative for $750K with many did-they-learn-the-right-lessons parallels to the ATSC Forum.

So the ATSC Forum is leaving unfinished business and (potentially) unlearned lessons:

Patent Licensing Processes Need Reform.
Hybrid Broadcast-Broadband Needs Uncaptured Standards.
The Curious Rebirth of Free TV Needs Tending.
US Mobile TV Risks Institutionalizing Same Mistakes.
Network policy in the broadband age should promote a global level playing field

In sum, the Network Policy Techno-Politics mix is still out of balance — but to ATSC Forum’s credit they have included technical reasoning along with political advocacy — something that recent FCC broadband dialog seems to lack so far.

To quote Richard Elkus’ 2008 “Winner Take All: How Competitiveness Shapes the Fate of Nations” (it was Elkus who in 1988 sounded the call that US digital TV policy may “reflect the ebbing tide of United States technological and economic leadership”):

“All of America’s technological industries and institutions are linked. … Strategy is everything.”


“Patent license fees are not important in the selection of a DTV transmission standard …. For almost every country in Latin America and the Caribbean, no patents apply for products manufactured and sold within that country”

ATSC Digital Television Update, Robert K. Graves, Chairman, ATSC Forum, Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, August 7, 2009,

“But almost none of the patents that apply in the U.S. have been filed in the Philippines, so IP fees will be far less in the Philippines than the small fees that apply in the U.S.

Dolby has indicated that it has not registered its AC-3 patents in the Philippines, and consequently, Dolby cannot, and will not, charge patent royalties for products that are manufactured and sold in the Philippines (or on products bought from or sold to other non-patent countries by the Philippines).

The ATSC Standard incorporates the VSB transmission system developed by Zenith Electronics. However, no Zenith patents associated with VSB have been filed in the Philippines (compared to 13 in North America), so there can be no IP license fee associated with the VSB transmission system for products produced and sold in the Philippines.”

Response of the ATSC Forum to the Consultative Document on Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) of the National Telecommunications Commission Department of Transportation and Communications Republic of the Philippines,  October 30, 2006

“More Democratic” … “It is a matter of social justice”

So US ambassadors have lobbied South American governments since 2007 that “[t]he issue is whether the government will choose the [ATSC] digital television standard that is already providing the highest quality, lowest cost, and most democratic opportunities …”

In recent months Peru, Argentina, and now Chile have turned down ATSC for the Japanese-Brazilian ISDB digital TV system, so it is worth asking the somewhat inconvenient question of how did a controversial, pricey, and generally questionable digital television patent pool drift into becoming a US diplomatic cause for democracy slash trade policy?

And whether this advocacy should be carried forward under the leadership of the newly-appointed Ambassador Philip Verveer of the US State Department’s International Communication and Information Policy (CIP) group as it was by his predecessor David A. Gross, who as late as February 2008, advocated in an op-ed column published in Chile:

“During my recent visit to Chile, I met with decision-makers from the government, the National Congress, industry, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the media. I explained the clear advantages of the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standard: a significant better quality and coverage and a lower cost”

The CIP is one of seven issue-oriented organizations within the Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.  In addition to Verveer, tech industry veteran Lorraine Hariton has just just been appointed Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs.

There is a lot of food for thought for the new team at CIP on this topic:

– trade policy and standards capture
broadband-broadcast convergence bridging a global digital divide
global level playing field network policy in the broadband age

To name a few.  Here’s to hoping the new CIP team will dig in, update outdated thinking, and lean forward!


The Opportunity for Chile in the Digital Television Age
Ambassador David A. Gross, U.S. Coordinator for International Communications & Information Policy, February 14, 2008:

“More Democratic: For technical reasons, the ATSC standard allows for a much greater number of broadcast stations to operate in a given area, thereby allowing for new broadcast stations and more types of additional broadcasts such as educational programming. “

American ATSC Digital TV Standard Offers Chile Advantages of Accessibility, Lower Costs, and Higher Quality”, March 16, 2007:

“Ambassador Kelly pointed out that ATSC offers Chile the unique opportunity of approaching the information society for all its citizens. He noted that the American standard “is much more flexible and open to future changes at reasonable and accessible costs to all.” “It is a matter of social justice that all citizens are able to participate and are guaranteed access,” he emphasized.”

Remarks to the Commercial Association of Sao Paulo (ACSP)
E. Anthony Wayne,  U.S. Assistant Secretary for Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, Sao Paulo, Brazil, April 6, 2006:

I’d like to briefly discuss Brazil’s vibrant telecommunications industry. I understand that President Lula is going to announce the selection of the Brazilian digital TV standard soon.

Of the several options on the table, we believe the ATSC standard [Advanced Television Systems Committee (the North American standard for digital TV, including high-definition)] offers the best combination of economic, social, and technical advantages. It has been adopted by the U.S., Canada, Mexico and South Korea. These countries that have adopted the ATSC standards are seeing a rapid increase in the sales of high definition television products. Brazil’s adoption of the ATSC standard will ensure a hemispheric standard, creating a market of 800 million people for DTV products and services.

The U.S. No longer manufactures television sets. This poises Brazil to supply high definition television sets, converter boxes, and transmission equipment throughout the Hemisphere. Brazil’s potential role as a leading supplier will help create high-paying, highly-skilled jobs and significant economic development.

The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation has set aside $150 million for U.S. Companies to invest in information technology development projects in Brazil. And U.S. Companies have already expressed their intention of making significant investments in ATSC-related manufacturing in Brazil.

ATSC’s open development process ensures Brazil a significant role in the evolution of the standard. Evolving ATSC standards present great opportunities for Brazilian-U.S. And Brazilian-South Korean collaboration and partnership.

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!


At the 2009 Brazil SET Broadcasting & Cable Conference I presented on 3 panel topics:

Slides on DTV patents below; the overall theme that Brazil has become a world DTV leader was picked up in the Brazil press here.


At the 2009 Brazil SET Broadcasting & Cable Conference I presented on 3 panel topics:

The overall theme that Brazil has become a world DTV leader was picked up in the Brazil press here.

Slides on Hybrid TV below covered the themes:

  • What is Hybrid TV?
  • Is Hybrid TV Good for FTA?
  • If Free Leads, Who Will Follow?

FTA = Free To Air = FTV = Free-To-View = free TV = advertising or public funded, no ongoing subscription


At the 2009 Brazil SET Broadcasting & Cable Conference I presented on 3 panel topics:

The overall theme that Brazil has become a world DTV leader was picked up in the Brazil press here.

Slides on learning from the Digital Switchover below covered the themes:

  • Switch Over Lessons
  • A Tale of Three Transitions
  • Global Switch Over Planning

DSO = Digital Switch Over = ASO = Analog Switch Off
= the country-by-country transition to all digital TV infrastructure, marked by planning for the cessation of analog TV broadcasting