On February 13 the group for economic, financial and social issues held the first meeting at the Council for the Switchover to Digital Broadcasting. 16 members, including the representatives of State agencies and the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) joined the group.
The members of the working group were divided into two subgroups – the subgroup for economic issues will be headed by Lali Gogoberidze, chief of Department of Economic Analysis and Policy of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia. The subgroup for social issues will be led by Ucha Seturi, expert of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI). The working group shall determine the costs expected within the transition period, as well as investments and subsidies, also work out terms and models of delivery media content, facilitate the import of devices, equipments and terminal installations. Moreover, the group is to develop a strategy to raise public awareness of the ongoing process so that every citizen had a possibility to have access to broadcasting following the switchover to digital broadcasting.
The working group for technical issues, already operating in the Council, is going to present its vision in the nearest future. Later a group for legal issues will be set up.
The strategy developed by working groups will be afterwards examined by the Council for the Switchover to Digital Broadcasting under the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia. Following the approval of the action plan the document will be forwarded to the interagency commission, and ultimately endorsed by the government.
The first meeting of the working group for economic, financial and social issues was attended by the experts of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Jukka Kanervisto, formerly working in Finland on social issues during the digitalization process shared his experience with the working group members. In Finland, the public outreach campaign was conducted in such a way that 10 months prior to the switchover 93 percent of the population was fully made aware, he said.
“It is impermissible to ignore an annoyed person. You have got to help citizens and explain every single detail of their interest as many as times as needed,” Jukka Kanervisto said. Actors, libraries, as well as every player on the communications market was taking active part in the outreach campaign. They were organizing public lectures, numerous meetings were held with the population across the country to explain what digital broadcasting is, how to apply set-top boxes. The price of the device ranges from USD 40 to 700 and anyone receiving broadcasting via antenna will need it.
According to the EBRD expert there are approximately 154 verities of set-top boxes and any technology that enters market should be tested.
Georgia currently conducts analogue broadcasting. The switchover to digital broadcasting is an international obligation. June 17, 2015, is deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for the European countries. Signing this Geneva agreement in 2006Georgia too assumed this obligation. The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development was assigned to lead the process. Most of the European countries have switched to digital broadcasting, while Georgia is discussing the digitalization process now. The EBRD experts were helping the Ministry with the development of the strategy. The final policy has not been determined yet. The paper shall be worked out by the Council for Switchover to Digital Broadcasting.