In the course of the January 15 meeting the EBRD pundits, invited by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, presented the remarks worked out by the Council for Switchover to Digital Broadcasting.
At the meeting three working groups were set up to work on various directions including the elaboration of technical concept, as well as legal, economic, financial and social issues. In their work the remarks and viewpoints made by the Council members will be taken into account.
The Council was set up on December 5, 2102. The members of the Council include the representatives of media, NGOs and State agencies. The EBRD experts sent the Council a draft to discuss over the ways Georgia is going to switch over to digital broadcasting, and also made a request to work out comments.
The organizations agree on several topics. All of the members within the Council think that DVB-T2 standard and MPEG4 format (definitions for terms is available at Media.Ge’s library) should be applied for the switchover.
The Council members also believe that neutral technologies should be applied within the process. Speaking at the meeting Natia Kuprashvili, Executive Director of the Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters (GARB) made a request to the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development to immediately work out a resolution to oblige cable and satellite companies to use technologically neutral receivers. Through this kind of equipments digital signals will be accessible too. In the course of the meeting Global TV’s Director Zurab Bazlidze said the import of this kind of receivers is not going to increase the expenses of cable and satellite companies.
The Council members do not yet think likewise on granting the multiplex management right. Some of them think the network operator should be selected by means of auction, while others believe the license should be issued based on the contest and ultimately granted to the company offering best concept.
All of the Council members are in agreement that the possibility of establishing monopoly should be ruled out, the multiplex operator needs to apply current infrastructure, it should be transparent and cost-oriented.
The EBRD experts once again stressed that very little time is left until the deadline (June 17, 2015) set for the switchover to digital broadcasting and they called on working groups to at the fastest rate possible. The Council members too call for speeding up the process and demand the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development to reach a certain decision.
All of the aforementioned issues should be ultimately written out working groups to be jointly approved by the Council.
Jemal Vashakidze, Deputy Head of the Department of Communications, Information Technologies and Innovations of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development though said no timeframes are needed to be set. “The process is rather complex and the terms will depend on the working groups,” said he speaking at the meeting.
Currently Georgia conducts analogue broadcasting, switchover to digital broadcasting is an international obligation. June 17, 2015, is deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for the European countries. Signing this Geneva agreement in 2006Georgia too assumed this obligation. The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development was assigned to lead the process inGeorgia. The greater majority of European countries have completed the switchover to digital broadcasting, while Georgia is discussing this issue now. The EBRD experts were helping the Ministry to develop the strategy. Thus far the final policy hasn’t been set forth. The Council is responsible for working out the document on switchover to digital broadcasting.