References and beneficiaries of a state policy aimed at subsidizing Georgia’s transition to digital broadcasting

News | Research | Economics and Social Policy | Good Governance | Media, Internet and Innovations | Publications 11 March 2013

Author: Ucha Seturi

Editor: Giorgi Kldiashvili

References and beneficiaries of a state policy aimed at subsidizing Georgia’s transition to digital broadcasting

A state assistance policy related to digital broadcasting switchover implies measures taken in the following two main directions: towardsend users, who are in need of a state assistance both because of the social and physical conditions (financing special and other appliances that are adapted to their needs, information support, assistance during installation and fixing works etc) andtowards service providers and equipment importers (broadcasters and network providers that shall carry out distribution of digital terrestrial signal, creation/modification of a network, importers and/or retail traders of equipment etc).

To ensure effective switchover to digital broadcasting it is necessary to take into consideration needs and problems faced by all groups of the society and ensure they have access to digital broadcasting network. Without such access, simply turning off analogue broadcasting will result in isolation of certain groups of population. Vulnerability of end users, apart from financial and physical condition related reasons, may be caused by lack of relevant skills and information.

It is extremely important to note that without active support and interference of the state the market is not in a position toregulate this process and, as a result, the customers with low income will remain without terrestrial broadcasting like in all developing countries, while in low budget regions broadcasters that are aired free of charge and receive meaningless amounts from advertising income generated from free broadcasting, face either cable transmitting alternative or concentration and/or in worst case - bankruptcy  threat even though that content might attract high public interest. The above issue is pretty problematic since distribution of a Public Broadcaster’s content shall occur within either universal broadcasting service or mandatory broadcasting financed by taxpayers, while commercial broadcasters are financed from advertising and other related activities.

Advertising market revenues are polarized and are spread among a few national broadcasters.

The infrastructure of terrestrial broadcasting network provider shall ensure diverse programming and availability of other related services on an end user’s level. An end user shall receive such level of the service quality that will be defined by technical part of the policy document and will be regarded as a digital broadcasting with an acceptable quality.

Majority of Georgian families will have to bear initial costs at the initial stage of digital broadcasting switchover, however in a long-term perspective a free high quality digital service will be available through a several TV sets located in a family that, due to increase of competition among services supplied through various platforms, will make cable and satellite service operators revise service fees and improve a service quality and terms.

As a result of implementing a state program on subsidizing purchase of digital broadcasting signal receiving appliances  - receivers (a special digital appliance that facilitates receipt of a digital signal and its further processing/transformation into analogue signal – a major task of a receiver), terrestrial broadcasting and all directions of digital broadcasting will be fostered.To ensure competition among various technological platforms, the receivers that are subject to financing shall be neutral towards the network and be inter-compatible and shall have an opportunity to engage in cable and satellite network (technologically neutral approach), except in case of free digital terrestrial broadcasting signals.

A state policy assisting persons interested in digital broadcasting shall also cover those measures that will encourage well doing end users to switch to digital broadcasting at an early stage. Namely, identification of relevant activities shall be encouraged that is extremely important from the standpoint of digital broadcasting switchover facilitation. The state shall ensure aid to those who are above the poverty rate, since there is a threat that a high price of a digital signal receiving equipment may isolate them from this process.

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