The Georgian National Communication Commission (GNCC) offered the society its vision for the country’s switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting. The meeting held at the Commission on October 24 was attended by the representatives of TV companies and NGOs.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) agreed that the transition period from analogue to digital broadcasting should end on 17 June 2015. In 2006 Georgia, along with other countries assumed this obligation and signed Geneva agreement. The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia was commissioned to conduct the process. The Ministry though has not even developed the strategy while the process is being actively on in the neighboring countries.
According to GNCC chairman Irakli Chikovani the recommendations developed by them had been submitted to the Ministry for long now, but the process has not been speeded up anyway.
The Commission believes that DVB-T2 standard with MPEG 4 technology should be introduced. Unless otherwise it will be impossible to secure efficient application of frequencies and after some time the country will be again facing the need for the change of the technical standard, which is an unreasonable expenditure for the country.
The business model applied in the TV broadcasting field is going to be changed by digital broadcasting, said Tiko Tkeshelashvili, head of GNCC’s department for strategic development, since with the introduction of the TV broadcasting the network operator is offered an additional resource whose management and application is the issue of importance.
The Commission thinks the analogue signal should be switched off gradually or simulcast should be applied which enables the broadcasting of programs across more than one medium at the same time.
There are several models applied worldwide for multiplex management of the network. In some countries the network operator itself is the content producer, while others broadcast the programming produced by other companies.
The Commission believes that the contest should be announced to obtain the right for network operation. Televisions too will be eligible to take part in the contest. This is to say, if any company wins it will be carrying other broadcasters’ content, but in case the TV company wins the contest the television itself will be the content producer as well as its carrier.
Speaking at the meeting Kavkasia TV Director Nino Jangirashvili said the broadcasters, up to their option, should be granting rights for network operation and they should not be made equivalent to the companies occupied with carrying the content produced by others.
“Unless otherwise we’ll become the programs production studios dependent on other companies’ will – whether to deliver our produce to the audience or not. This way we are going to have a new monopolist in the country,” said Nino Jangirashvili.
Her opinion was upheld by Stereo + Director and head of the Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters (GARB). According to Levan Gakheladze, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Georgian Public Broadcasting (GPB) the public broadcaster itself should be the operator of one network since by the end of 2013 the broadcaster will be offering its three channels in HD format, this is to say the broadcaster can fill up the network itself.
The Commission thinks Must Carry rules should be applied and network operators shall be obliged to carry general broadcasting license holders.
According to the recommendation provided some technical changes should be implemented in every circle of broadcasting and government should adequately plan the switchover process and frequencies should be distributed in a right way.
The allocation of digital frequencies as well as license issuance-related issues should be well adjusted.
“Adequate management and control over the transitive period needs to be provided so that the country were not left without terrestrial broadcasting,” said Tiko Tkeshelashvili. A virtual plan for network planning should be developed, she said, current infrastructure should be studied and a plan drawn up with the view of optimizing the costs.
The government, GNCC thinks, should take care of providing receivers for the vulnerable population to enable them receive digital broadcasting.
According to the GNCC Chair Irakli Chikovani and interagency commission should be set up to secure the arrangement of all of the aforementioned issues. Representatives of TV companies too demand preparatory works for the switchover to be speeded up.