New Model of Digital Broadcasting
18 July, 2013
New Model of Digital Broadcasting
To ensure fair market competition and smooth adoption of digital broadcasting system in Georgia, the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information suggests to the administration to permit limited- capacity bands for regional broadcasting companies in pursuance with the US model.
“This new model that duplicates the US practice for digital broadcasting will ease life to small low-budget regional broadcasting companies that cannot afford huge expenses related with the broad-band capacity that may lead companies to bankruptcy eventually and boost
monopolies at the market,” Natia Kuprahsvili, an spokesperson with the Institute for Development of Freedom and Information (IFDI), explained the idea of the new model in the interview with Georgian Journal.
As a matter of fact, in 2006 Georgia assumed obligation against International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to move on digital broadcasting by mid-June of 2015 however Georgian government did not stir a finger until the last year yet to push the issue forward and even the newly undertaken efforts are insignificant, IDFI experts say. IF Georgia does not shape out a strategy and action plan for adopting digital broadcasting system in the country as soon as possible than since June of 2015 Georgian TV companies will no longer be protected from interception of their competitor companies operating in neighboring countries. This will create problems to the final consumer as well as to companies operating in telecommunication or in media sector generally.
Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development been put in charge with the implementation of digital broadcast in Georgia pays not due attention to the issues that are of vital importance to successful digitalization process such as providing information and subsidies to final customer, problems of small regional broadcast companies been of paramount importance to pluralism development in the country, also regulation competition on the inter-platform level, and encouraging investments, etc. The strategy paper is expected to create conditions for multi-profile TV content and pay particular attention to consumer’s interests for without provision the comprehensive information adoption of the digital broadcasting system may deprive the customer of free public broadcast as well as of commercial content.
To start the situation from the frozen point IDFI offers to adopt a pilot digital program admitting operation in narrow-band capacity to around 26 regional low-budget broadcasting companies with around GEL 50 thousands of annual income that cannot afford expenses related with the adoption of digital systems in broad-band regime. According to Kuprashvili, based on the calculations provided by the state taking in the digital system requires around EUR 20 million plus exploitation and reequipping-related expenses that apparently are beyond the small regional companies’ reach while the proposed US model cuts expenses many-fold down to USD 30 thousand as maximum. “USD 30 thousand was required for Ukrainian companies but most probably this will be much cheaper in Georgia. And this will give a relief to small regional companies otherwise they may go bankrupt and the market will be monopolized either by the state supported company or one private investor that is both an evil for will kill pluralism and competition,” Kuprashvili said. Actually majority of broadcast operators except Silknet, as well as Georgian National Communication Regulatory Commission (GNCC), approve the IDFI idea. GNCC finds it quite possible to implement the pilot program within a month. But the financing issue of the project is still open – IDFI plans to meet with the MOED to discuss whether or not the state will provide due finances. “We should start piloting the program to see the potential problems that may come on the way otherwise it looks like furnishing a room by furniture in the darkness, we do not see the broad picture for nothing has been dome so far,” Kuprashvili stated.
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