Working groups of the Council for Switchover to Digital Broadcasting under the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development have not developed the final document yet. Members of the Council say that the process has been suspended and working meeting has not been conducted for a long time, although Deputy Head of the Communication, IT and Innovations Department of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development Jemal Vashakidze, who supervises the process of switchover to digital broadcasting, claims the opposite.
Council for switchover to digital broadcasting was created last December and in January the Technical Issues Working Group was formed; 13 February was formed the Economic, Financial and Social Issues Working Group. Legal Issues Working Group was also to be formed although it has not been done yet. These working groups were to develop their vision of how switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting must be conducted in Georgia.
Executive Director of the Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters Natia Kuprashvili, who is a member of the Technical Issues Working Group, says that members of the working group have not come to unified, agreed opinion.
“Different groups proposed certain projects to the Ministry but no official decision has been made. We have no finalized document. I do not know what result or what vision the Technical Group has presented. The process is suspended. There’s been a long pause and I do not understand why. Ministry has not made any clarification,” Natia Kuprashvili told Media.ge.
According to the head of Social Issues subgroup Ucha Seturi, in two weeks after its formation the second Working Group sent two documents to the Ministry of Economy; documents related to both subsidizing of customers and competition on the market.
“We asked the Ministry to correct our document according to their policy in technical field. They did not tell us in which direction to go. The Ministry has not scheduled a working meeting; they thanked us and that was it. Since then we have not had communication with the Ministry,” Ucha Seturi stressed.
According to him, in framework of the Coalition for Media Advocacy they are developing a new strategy for switchover to digital broadcasting after which a meeting with the Ministry will again be requested.
“Members of the group were motivated; everyone was involved actively; we cannot blame members in carelessness. Accordingly, those who are facilitating the process and who are responsible, I mean the Ministry of Economy, they are to be blamed for the slowdown of the process,” Natia Kuprashvili stressed. According to him, they better work out a certain model; have a specific decision “which one may not agree with and request certain changes, instead of being in permanent obscurity.”
Deputy head of Communications, IT and Innovations Department Jemal Vashakidze says that work of all working groups is so interrelated that projects submitted by the groups need unification.
“It is all so interrelated that it is impossible to say that any of them have completed their work,” Jemal Vashakidze told Media.ge. He claims that work on switchover to digital broadcasting continues in the same pace as it started.
“I do not know who says that; what is the reason and goal, but the process has not been suspended. The work continues. It is a live, working process. If someone thinks that they to come here every day and hold sessions it is a wrong position,” Jemal Vashakidze stressed. According to him, the Legal Issues Working Group will gather in one week. Along with that group of representatives of the Ministry and the Georgian National Communications Commission is to visit the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) in Geneva 16 April. They will discuss the frequency resource coordination issue and will speak about allocation of additional frequencies.
Georgia now broadcasts in analogue format. Switchover to digital broadcasting is an international obligation. ITU has set 17 June 2015 as deadline to complete switchover to digital broadcasting for European countries. Georgia took the given obligation along with other countries in 2006 and signed the Geneva agreement.
Management of the given process has been assigned to the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia. Majority of European countries has already switched to digital broadcasting. Georgia is discussing the given process now. EBRD experts assisted the Ministry in developing the strategy. Final policy has not been developed yet. Council for switchover to digital broadcasting is to work out the final document.