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12.07.2013 01:18

IDFI and GARB Make Request for Allocation of Test Zone for Switchover to Digital Broadcasting

Nata Dzvelishvili
Digital Broadcasting

IDFI GARB

“Institute for Development of Freedom of Information(IDFI) and Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters(GARB) believe that one test broadcasting zone should be allocated during the process of switchover to digital broadcasting(digitalization), which will enable the parties involved in the process define the concrete cost and make calculations.

On July 11, GARB and IDFI introduced to the society their vision of the model of regional channels’  switchover to the digital broadcasting.

They believe that the existing structure must be utilized to the maximum during the process of digitalization. Regional broadcasters must be given the opportunity to spread signal through low capacity transmitters during the course of the switchover to digital broadcasting, so that they’re not dependent on the national multiplex.

According to the data provided by NAM, Ukraine Regional Broadcasters Network, Executive Director of GARB Natia Kupreishvili had stated that in this case the installation of a single low-capacity multiplex in one broadcasting zone will cost the channels approx. USD 30, 000.

“For instance, 6 broadcasters operating in Imereti zone will unite and spread the signal through one frequency. In this way we’ll facilitate the reservation of regional channels. In case there is only a single broadcaster within one zone, the liability of obligatory transit will then be imposed upon its low-capacity network”- Natia Kupreishvili stressed at the presentation.

Boris Adamia, representative of Georgian Teleradiocenter, didn’t share her viewpoint, and stated that at the meeting with Georgian Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development they had come to the agreement that there will be only two multiplexes installed in the country. One of them will carry the national channels, whereas the other will be put to the service of the regional TV companies. Both of them will cost EUR 14 millions.

The installation of multiplexes in all zones will cost more than the aforementioned sum(EUR 14 millions), depending on the relief conditions. So it will be better to build new infrastructure,” –Boris Adamia stated.

According to Natia Kupreishvili, it is necessary to allocate one concrete zone where the test infrastructure will be build, which in addition enables better calculation of the expenses.

It became clear during the meeting, that Georgian National Communication Commission planned to build a similar test zone in Guria two years ago, however, according to the statement of Nodar Aspanidze, Chief Specialist of the Radiofrequency Management Department, “some details regarding the selling of the transmitter hasn’t been agreed upon, hence the realization of the plan failed.”

He as well stressed, that there is an appropriate frequency resource which makes it possible to arrange a test zone. The most essential thing for that matter is that the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development decides whether we make the test zone on the basis of a license or permission. The Commission is ready for such test.”

Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development

The process of digitalization is managed by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia. In December 2012 they founded the Council for Switchover to Digital Broadcasting, that was supposed to develop the strategy.  However,  no document has as yet been issued, and the Council itself hasn’t held a meeting since February. Only 2 working groups have been created, which were meant to present their vision of the social and financial issues. As regards the legal issues, no working group has been created for that matter.

The country must accomplish the process of digital switchover until 2015. At the meeting held on July 11, the NGOs stated several times their complaints with respect to the agency, by reason of slowing down the process.

“Due to the fact that the Ministry hasn’t made the concrete decisions, we now have to work on development of different models in order to somehow accelerate the process. We do not demand that only our proposed model must be implemented,” – stressed Director of IDFI Giorgi Kldiashvili.

It had as well emerged during the meeting that the Ministry of Economy has once again invited experts of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development(EBRD), which have helped Georgia in the development of the strategy, and the Council for Switchover to Digital Broadcasting was created with the active involvement on their part.

The Ministry held a meeting on July 10, which was closed to media. The members of the Council haven’t as well participated in it. And On July 11 the experts of EBRD stated that yesterday’s meeting touched upon the subject of electronic communications, not digital broadcasting. They didn’t specify the level of their current involvement in the process of Georgia’s digitalization.

Irakli Kashibadze, Head of the Information Technologies and Innovations Department of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, reported to Media.Ge on July 1, that he was going to make an official statement regarding the digital broadcasting until July 3, yet Media.Ge couldn’t contact with him since then. Neither he attended the presentation held on July 11. Natia Kupreishvili says that Irakli Kashibadze had referred his absence to being busy, but that he, however, expressed willingness to meet with Media Advocacy Coalition in order to discuss the issues of the digital switchover and allocation of the text zone.

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