In 2015 Georgia will turns into a new format for broadcasting. The existing terrestrial  broadcasting will be replaced by digital technologies. All member countries of the International Telecommunications Association, including Georgia, are obliged to implement the project.

The Georgian government provides active job in various directions for the project implementation. Subsidization of socially vulnerable families is one of the priorities.

The reformation process also takes into account the interests of ethnic minorities – multilingual information bulletins have been prepared for each family.

Preparatory works for moving to a new format will be finished soon. The government has taken many important steps under the action plan. Nino Qubinidze,  head of  the Digital Broadcasting Agency, talks about the achieved results in the 2014 final report.

The company for building a state multiplex platform for the Public Broadcaster programs has been selected, the so-called Set-Top Boxes for reception of terrestrial  digital signals have been purchased, all projects for information campaign inauguration have been finished (including organizing a hotline, preparation of video clips and print materials and so on). The active phase of the information campaign will start in January 2015, Qubinidze noted.

“It is important that advisors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) assist our domestic experts in the reformation process. We have taken all necessary steps to prevent a reception of low-quality products with the aim to ensure reasonable spending of the state budget funds”, Qubinidze said.

Foreign partners ROHDE-SCHWARZ, ALCATEL-LUCENT, ELTI, IMAGINE, GATESAIR and representatives of other companies have positively appraised the reformation process.

The Digital Broadcasting Agency head has also talked about a contract agreement with  Chinese KONKA company.

“We have already concluded agreement with KONKA, a Chinese technologies supplier company. Under the agreement, the government will purchase 210 858 SET-TOP Boxes for vulnerable  families. The mentioned company is one of the strongest and it is reported among China’s top three manufacturers of consumer appliances”.

An expert of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) and the founder of the commercial network constructor company have also positively appraised the performed job and the results achieved by the Digital Broadcasting Agency.

“The so-called SET-TOP Boxes, digital terrestriall signal reception technologies, have been already purchased. Thanks to the Agency efforts, we have purchased the appliances at far lower prices than planned in the primary strategy, Ucha Seturi said.

The Digital Broadcasting Agency head has held another important meeting with consumer appliances importer companies.

About 20 interested companies submitted applications, including Alta, Beco, ElitElectronics, Vestel, MetroMart, Megatechnica, Elektronika, 7 Channel, cshop. ge, Orient Logic, TechnoBoom, Okey, Itechnic, UGT,  LGL, AGM and so on.

The meeting made focus on the reformation process, technical peculiarities of the consumer appliances, alternative models, the importance of the quality of products, subscribers market, the process of preparatory works related to purchase of ST-TOP Boxes and the current situation.

“This is a complex process. The developed countries started this project several years ago. Under the ITU data, the switchover took 14 years in England, 13 years in the USA, 6 to 8 years in Germany, Sweden, France and other developed countries. Georgia preserves enough time for the reformation process completion and the market must be timely prepared for the changes. It is also important that the process protect the rights of both subscribers and suppliers”, Qubinidze noted.

Consumer appliances supplier stores should also start preparation works so as they sell digital signal reception special devices and TV Sets starting the New Year, she noted and continued about the construction of terrestrial digital television platforms and the obligations of the commercial networks constructor company and the Authorities:

“The state must provide one multiplex platform that includes terrestrial digital radio broadcasting, microwave transmission networks and place all programs of the Public Broadcaster, including the first and second channels and the Achara Public Broadcaster channel. And the commercial operator has assumed the obligation to construct 3 multiplex platforms and broadcast all live air national programs, including the content  of Rustavi 2, Imedi TV, First Stereo and other broadcasters”, Qubinidze pointed out.

At the meeting representatives of trade networks made focus on their own business interests and showed interest whether the government is expected to set certain kind of restrictions. The business sector is independent and in this process the government only acts as a recommender, Qubinidze explained.

At the meeting representatives of the companies were also interested in competitive capacity of cable televisions. David Zilphimiani said analog and digital terrestrial broadcasting cannot be considered as a competitor to satellite, cable and other television platforms.

“The national practice has showed after the digital terrestrial aboveground broadcasting introduction instead of the analog broadcasting, satellite and cable televisions maintain the same quantity of subscribers as they served before the reformation process. Therefore, this process will not make negative affect on their business interests. They are not competitors to each other”, the Stereo Plus founder said.

Transparency of the process and comprehensive public awareness are one of the priorities of the agency. To this end on December 9 to December 10 the Digital Broadcasting Agency of the Georgian Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development held a workshop for broadcasters, nongovernmental organizations and mass media at Old Tbilisi hotel.

The event with the participation of about 70 representatives of regional media outlets was held as part of the information campaign on moving to digital terrestrialbroadcasting in Georgia.

After delivering reports and making presentations Eka Kubusidze, a head for the Info Communications Management of  the Economy Ministry Department for Communications, Information Technologies and Innovations, as well as Nino Qubinidzae, the Digital Broadcasting Agency Chief, Tiko Tkeshelashvili, a head for the Strategic Department of the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC), Georgian Technical University professor Niko Bazianidze, Stereo+ founder David Zilphimiani (the commercial network constructing company), Natia Kuprashvili, a head for the Association of Regional Broadcasters and IDFI expert Ucha Seturi answered the questions of reporters.

The meeting was held in interactive regime on the reformation process, including legislative regulations, state subsidization policy, technological standards, multiplex platforms, the issues related with admission of broadcasters to the market and placement in live air.

Legislative regulations will change after moving to digital broadcasting. The bill of amendments abolishes broadcasters licensing regulations and it will be replaced by authorization, a simplified form for admission to the market.

At the workshop, reporters asked many questions on perspectives of local broadcasters. David Zilphimiani, Ucha Seturi and Natia Kupreisvhili provided comprehensive answers to these questions. They explained the reform will not result in disappearance of local broadcasters. Moreover, the reform will boost media pluralism and new players will appear on the market. It should be also noted the government has permitted local broadcasters to own frequency resources in decimeter and metric diapasons. The government has also allowed them to become national broadcasters.

As reported, digital swichover will beon June 17, 2015 in Georgia. Starting the same day live air TV programs will be broadcast through only digital terrestrial signals.

Digital broadcasting has got many advantages compared to the existing analog broadcasting. Digital broadcasting promotes the establishment of European standards in the telecommunications field and draws investments, develops media pluralism and TV broadcasting.