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08.12.2011 19:28

Strategy of Switchover to Digital Broadcasting to be Worked out inGeorgia

David Mchedlidze
Digital Broadcasting

Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development is to start developing the strategy of switchover to digital broadcasting, with support from the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).  This was announced at the Conference opened in Tbilisi Sheraton Metechi Palace Hotel on December 8.
The Conference is organized framework of the multi-month technical assistance program:  “Georgia: Infocommunication Policy and Regulatory Development.” The project will be implemented by the EBRD and the Government of Finland in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and the National Commission for Communications.

The main aim of the Program is policy-making for the electronic communications sector ofGeorgia, which includes the package of projects to be implemented.  It will also include the strategy of switchover to digital broadcasting.

During the opening speech Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Vera Kobalia spoke about the importance of the strategic development document in the process of infocommunications development.

EBRD consultants spoke to the Conference participant representatives of communication operators and representatives of international organizations about the goals and priorities of the communication policy.  They also spoke about the broadband services, which will allow the consumers to receive high-speed Internet and high quality radio and TV packages.

According to EBRD consultant Peter Landis a complete infrastructure necessary for digital broadcasting is significant for investment into communication sector, which cannot be done without developing a coinciding strategy.  Broadcasting inGeorgiais done through analogue signal now.  According to the decision of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in 2015 the analogue broadcasting switch-off will take place and broadcasting will be conducted through digital signal throughout the world.  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 inGeorgia.  Development of the strategy by support from the EBRD starts inGeorgianow.

According to the Head of Communication, Information Technologies and Innovations Department of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia Irakli Kashibadze the digital broadcasting strategy will be development in parallel with policy-making process.

“Communication technologies and digital broadcasting cannot be considered separately.  The technologies, including television are so converged that we must consider them as a unified structure,” Kashibadze told media.ge after the completion of the Conference.  During the Conference Natia Kuprashvili, Executive Director of the Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters (GARB) and lawyer Alexander Baramidze asked the EBRD consultants to pay attention to the strategy of switchover to digital broadcasting when working out the policy.  The strategy will be ready by the end of March 2012 and its practical implementation will start.

Representative of the Georgian National Commission for Communications Tea Tkeshelashvili admitted that development of the strategy has been started late.  “We should have taken specific actions two years earlier,” Tkeshelashvili said and stressed that the main issue to decide upon is which model of digital broadcasting will Georgia choose – it can be a multiplex operator, which will broadcast the content produced by TV-companies, or broadcasters themselves can create multiplex and will insure production and transit of programs at the same time.

“Multiplex operator” is not a technical term.  It is a decision on which direction the country goes and which model is chooses.  Multiplex issue is an important component of telecommunication business development,” Tea Tkeshelashvili said.  According to her, the issue of negotiations with neighboring countries is also of great significance.

After switchover to digital broadcasting the analogue frequency will be free and the country can use it for different purposes.   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 inGenevain 2006.  This means that the neighboring countries must preliminarily agree on which frequencies they will be using.

Irakli Kashibadze clarified that the draft version of the strategy will be developed by the Ministry with participation and financial assistance from EBRD.  After that the document will be presented for discussion to the civil society and interested persons.  The strategy will be approved after considering all the received remarks and recommendations.

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