Measures to Ensure Smooth Transition from Analogue to Digital Broadcasting

Story Highlights

  • The Government is putting measures in place to ensure a smooth transition from analogue to digital television broadcasting in the next four years.
  • This was disclosed by Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House on June 28.
  • He informed that the National Digital Switchover Steering Committee, which he chairs, met on June 1, 2017 and a presentation was made by its Technical Committee. The Committee was formed in 2009 to see to Jamaica’s successful transition from analogue to digital transmission.

The Government is putting measures in place to ensure a smooth transition from analogue to digital television broadcasting in the next four years.

This was disclosed by Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House on June 28.

The Minister noted that it is necessary for Jamaica to make the switch as global standards for broadcast distribution have migrated, or are migrating from analogue transmission to digital and high-definition transmission.

“I am signalling to the country that this is a direction in which the country is heading (digital switchover), and so we have to prepare,” he said.

Senator Reid pointed out that the Government has been engaging in discussions with stakeholders and plans are being advanced regarding this anticipated national digital switchover.

He informed that the National Digital Switchover Steering Committee, which he chairs, met on June 1, 2017 and a presentation was made by its Technical Committee.

The Committee was formed in 2009 to see to Jamaica’s successful transition from analogue to digital transmission.

The Minister said that the substantive work being carried out by this Committee will guide Jamaica in its digital switchover process, which is targeted to take full effect in 2021.

He noted that recommendations will flow from various streams of work being undertaken by the Committee and its three subcommittees. These include technology standards; licensing framework; service proposition; business model and financing; frequency plan; and analogue switchover plan.

“Recommendations will be made to Cabinet from time to time on these matters and I will take to the Cabinet existing recommendations to provide enabling provisions in the Broadcasting and Radio Re-Diffusion Act,” he informed.

These provisions, he said, will confer on the Minister the power to introduce dates for digital switchover commencement and analogue switch-off; specify the related standards; make transitional arrangements as may emerge as necessary for analogue switch-off and digital switchover; and introduce dates by which retailers should cease the importation of analogue television sets.

“It is also contemplated that there will be legislative provisions for powers to be conferred on the Broadcasting Commission to allow for the issuing of directives to address a range of matters, including anti-dumping considerations and the disposition of analogue sets; and make administrative arrangements as may emerge as necessary for analogue switch-off and digital switchover,” he added.

The Steering Committee is co-chaired by Chairman of the Broadcasting Commission, Professor Anthony Clayton; Chairman of the RJRGleaner Group, Lester Spaulding; and the Chairman of the Jamaica Association of Community Cable Operators (JACCO), Anthony Graham.

Membership also includes industry stakeholders, such as free to air, cable and retailers; Spectrum Management Authority, the Consumer Affairs Commission, and representatives of other Government entities.

The use of digital technology will lead to improvement in production content and distribution; the production of better quality audio and audiovisual product for broadcast or other media dissemination; and enhancement in the viewer/consumer experience, including interactivity, additional channels, audio description and subtitling for persons with visual and hearing impairments, as well as access to broadband, telephony and other services.

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