Chile Unsure About U.S. Digital TV Standard

Santiago is ordering more technical analysis of choices.

SANTIAGO (Reuters)—Chile has postponed until March its decision about which digital television standard it will adopt—Japanese, European or American, government spokesman Francisco Vidal said on Monday.

"The president (Michelle Bachelet) has requested more studies, of a technical nature, in order not to err in our decision," Vidal told reporters.

"The decision on digital television, which the government had committed to defining before December 31, that decision and its definition will be postponed," he said.

President Bachelet has said the standard chosen will be the one that best fits the countrys needs and allows the best access to viewers of non-paid broadcast television.

The transition period required to implement the digital television standard is estimated to be at least eight years and the government hopes to see the first digital TV signals broadcast in 2010 in Chiles major cities.

Chile has six broadcast television networks, five are private and one is government-owned.

Paid television service is dominated by cable service provider VTR, a unit of U.S.-based Liberty Global, followed by Spains Telefonica SA. Satellite service is provided by DirectTV Group Inc.

"March or the end of March would be a better time to know with certainty what decision the government will make ... a decision built on solid technical data," Vidal said.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Martinez, editing by Richard Chang)