Switchover to digital broadcasting – the process where journalists’ involvement and correct reporting are essential factors. On December 2-3 Internews Georgia organized training on the given issue for Tbilisi-based and regional media representatives.
On the first day of training twenty journalists participating in the training gained theoretical knowledge about digital broadcasting from media expert David Mikautadze. On June 15, 2015 an analogue switch-off will take place in Europe and the broadcasting will be conducted through digital signal. Neighboring countries will no longer be obliged to protect the frequencies applied by Georgian TV-radio broadcasters for analogue broadcasting. The given agreement was signed in Geneva in 2006. Switchover to digital broadcasting is an international obligation. In some countries the process has already completed while thus far there is no strategy in place in Georgia. Majority of the training participants received information about digital broadcasting for the first time.
David Mikautadze explained to journalists what is going to be changed with the introduction of digital broadcasting and what impact this process is going to have on the society. “You need to deliver correct information to population. You need to explain to those receive broadcasting at different platforms what choices, and try to avoid giving concern to them,” media expert told journalists.
The training participants showed keen interest to the decoder-related issue. Decoder is a kind of device to be purchased following the switchover to digital broadcasting by those using aerials to have access to different TV channels.
Avtandil Chkhaidze, Deputy Head of the technical department of the Georgian Public Broadcasting (GPB) also attended the training. In the course of the training he spoke about the activities carried out by GPB to get prepared for the switchover to digital broadcasting.
“We have in fact changed the equipments and imported up-to-date top quality equipments. The stages of digital broadcasting process must be agreed upon at the governmental level and we are following their plan step by step, whatever we are being proposed,” Chkhaidze stressed.
Journalists were curious to know whether it is necessary to go through the so called simulcast period, the stage of simultaneous broadcast of analogue and digital signals. “The simulcast period would be preferable to be launched in 2012 and switch over gradually. An immediate cut-off of the analogue signal and an instant application of digital one is not that effective, that’s my personal point of view though,” Avtandil Chkhaidze said.
According to Natia Kuprashvili, Executive Director, the Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters (GARB), there is no time left for simulcast.
“The Ministry of Economics and Sustainable Development has not even got a strategy in place, this is to say the simulcast may not start in 2012. We have no time left for tentative broadcasting,” said Natia Kuprashvili, the second selected guest to the training.
Ukraine is now undergoing the process of simulcast. Ukrainian media consultant Ivan Poltavets conducted the second day of training and along with sharing Ukrainian experience he also assigned hands-on exercises to the journalists. As a result of working within groups the training participants developed a plan for articles. In the future they will produce TV, print and online stories on the given topic to be published in their own media outlets. The winner will ne awarded with Amazon Kindle.
Upon the completion of the training the participants discussed the importance of the information provided in the course of the two-day training.
“I have been unaware of digital broadcasting; I have had no idea we had such a extensive process ahead; now we will be definitely producing materials this issue,” Eliso Janashia, editor, Poti-based tspress.ge stressed.
Journalist Tika Dugashvili of the Rustavi 2 broadcasting company said at their office nobody had talked about digital broadcasting to the TV company staff. “The management might be having certain activities planned, but we haven’t been notified of it. We must provide information about the given process to the population,” said Tika Dugashvili reporting to Media.ge
Upon the completion of the training Ivan Poltavets said raising journalists’ awareness of digital should be elevated.
“This training has shown us how important it is raise journalists’ awareness of digital broadcasting. When absolutely completely new process is being concerned the verification of information to avoid the confusion of the population by self-contradicting reports is of high importance; it turned out to be evident in the course of the training,” Ivan Poltavets told Mdia.ge. According to him journalists are also obliged to enlighten older generation who have been watching black-and-white TVs throughout their lives.
Journalists have been awarded with certificates upon the completion of the training