Giorgi Kldiashvili, Director at IDFI and Ucha Seturi, Expert in Media and Telecommunications law participated in Batumi Media Conference on September 20. Conference, dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Foundation, was organized by Open Society Georgia Foundation and The Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics. The representatives of Georgian National Communication Commission and organizations, working in media field also attended the event. Ucha Seturi spoke about the process of digital switchover in Georgia and reviewed current achievements and challenges.
Topic of the first part of the presentation was the process of procurement of MUX network built service for providing the transmission of public broadcasting. LTD "TV-Radio center of Georgia" is responsible for ensuring the broadcasting of GPB. For this purpose the tender was recently announced. The agreement was signed with the selected company on July 24, 2014; though later (08.08.14) due to withholding the bank guaranty the agreement was canceled by LTD "TV-Radio Center of Georgia’s" initiative. Ucha Seturi named the grounds of suspension the agreement, selection top cap of budget for the project and selected method of public procurement as problematic sides of the process.
According to the State action plan of digital switchover, digital transmission of public broadcaster’s signals should commence on March 1, 2015; however, the winner company has not yet been revealed and Ucha Seturi suspects this may postpone beginning of test broadcasting. Moreover, winter period is coming and construction of the networks will be almost impossible due to severe weather conditions.
David Zilpimiani, representative of Stereo + also delivered the speech. Stereo + is responsible for constructing the commercial MUX platform and providing the commercial broadcasters on national level after digital switchover. As Mr. Zilpimiani noted, the company has already started working and if the construction of network for the public broadcaster is not finished by March 2015, spreading of public broadcaster channels will be possible through this network.
In addition, Ucha Seturi outlined the responsibilities of State Agency of Digital Broadcasting, in terms of coordinating the works connected to digital switchover, providing subsidies for socially vulnerable families, organizing information campaign and providing the operative assistance to population if needed.
Although the list of the subjects, participating in process of purchasing the special equipments for socially vulnerable families was supposed to be publicized by July 12, the result is still unknown, thus IDFI expresses concern by this fact and conceives it as serious problem. Another problematic factor was also identified – the information campaign on digital switchover issues has not yet commenced and the big part of the society is not informed about the planned changes.
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