The Digital Broadcasting Switchover action plan, approved by the government on February 6, has been given positive evaluation by the organizations partaking in the process. Even though, Natia Kuprashvili, Executive Director, Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters (GARB) said, the publication of the strategy was delayed the document considers the good practice of any country having experienced switchover to digital broadcasting an gives the possibility for the market diversification.
The action plan, she added, provides for any demand raised by regional broadcasters.
“I believe if the process is conducted in a way planned the regional broadcasters will be granted a possibility to be made into profitable businesses and their sustainability will be guaranteed,” said Natia Kuprashvili reporting to Media.Ge. Switchover to digital broadcasting, she said, allows every government to plan the process in a way to influence media environment in order to secure its guarantees. “With the given action plan the incumbent government has truly not done it, and I am happy about it,” said GARB’s Executive Director.
Despite general approval expressed in regard to the action plan GARB’s chief still has got some remarks. After the switchover to digital broadcasting the public broadcaster’s frequencies should be no longer held by State-owned TV-Radio Center. Natia Kuprashvili believes that TV-Radio Center could be the owner of infrastructure to build multiplex in but the frequency should be held by the broadcaster itself to secure its independence.
According to the action plan the public broadcaster will be transmitted through the multiplex constructed by TV-Radio Center.
Her second remark touches upon the use of receivers by population. According to the action plan State insures free-or-charge provision of Set Top Boxes to socially vulnerable population having less than 70 points of rating points. Set top boxes are needed to provide DVB-T2 standard support to TV-sets.
According to Natia Kuprashvili, socially vulnerable population possessing either no TV-sets at all or B & W ones fall within this category, and set top boxes are not compatible with such TV devices. To me it’s the same as handing out horseshoes to the people having no horses. Therefore the subsidiary policy should be revised,” Natia Kuprashvili stressed.
Transparency International Georgia Senior Analyst, Mathias Huter offers positive evaluation to the action plan. From his viewpoint it’s important that the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia got NGOs as well as broadcasters and other interested parties in the action plan development process and that their opinions have been taken into account.
Mathias Huter also welcomes the decision on the creation of the Digital Broadcasting Agency. Under the given title, according to the action plan, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia is to found a legal person of public law to be oriented on the provision of information and support to the population. TI-Georgia’s Senior Analyst believes that the Agency should thoroughly develop an action plan so that the whole population of the country was ready and well informed of the transition.
“It is very important that the government apportioned GEL 20 million for the digital transition preprocess that implies dissemination of set top boxes for vulnerable population and reachout campaign,” said Mathias Huter.
He is hopeful that the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia will in a short while publicize a detailed action plan including terms for particular activities and persons responsible.
Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia has publicized the action plan and recommendations for the switchover to digital broadcasting on February 8. The document had been developed with the support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and following recommendations from the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) and non-governmental organizations. The government approved the switchover to digital broadcasting strategy on February 7, 2014.
Broadcasters are currently circulating analogue signal. Due to limited resource of frequencies countries members of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) agreed on the switchover to digital broadcasting in 2006. 17 June, 2015 has been set as deadline for the switchover. Majority of those countries have already switched to digital broadcasting.
Meanwhile, Georgia has only 1.5 years left for the implementation of the activities set forth in the strategy.