The Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica (BCJ) is to begin a comprehensive study next month on the requirements for ensuring a successful switchover to digital in 2015.
Digital switchover is the term used for the replacement of the traditional analogue television (TV) broadcasting system with digital format. Jamaicans will have to upgrade their television sets and recording equipment to receive digital TV.
Executive Director of the BCJ, Cordel Green, who made the announcement at a technical seminar held on Wednesday (March 21) at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in Kingston, said the study, which should be completed in June or July this year, will identify, among other things, cost points, and opportunities for funding and support.
“That should put us in a position at the end of 2012 to have a very clear econometric, financial and technical plan on which we can build in 2013, 2014 and then taking us into 2015,” he stated.
He said the research will be particularly beneficial for free-to-air television operators, who are concerned about costs. “It also applies to cable, but many of you are already involved in that transformational process, but for free-to- air television (FTA) operators, who have invested a lot in the traditional analogue transmitters, there are always questions around costs,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Mr. Green said a decision will be made shortly on the appropriate technical standards to be used in switching to digital in Jamaica.
“There is a technical committee, which is a soft committee of the National Steering Committee that has been examining this matter and they expect to take a decision and make some announcements in early April,” he said.
The Executive Director said the report from the committee will include suggestions coming out of a regional technical forum organised last year by the Mona School of Business and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
He noted that there were “some in-depth discussions about standards” made by the participants. “They did signal the direction in which (they) think Jamaica should move and those signals were taken into consideration,” he added.
Wednesday’s technical forum was the second in a series organised by the Broadcasting Commission aimed at improving and strengthening the capacity of operators of cable or subscriber television and radio stations.
Engineers from Advanced Media Technologies (AMT) in Florida, Adrian Copantsidis and Juan Carlos Marchesini were the main presenters.
They spoke about transitioning from analogue systems to new digital cable and FTA television systems, as well as distribution platforms and transport media, such as satellite.
There was also a presentation by the Distribution Engineer of the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) Osawaki Wickham, on the topic: ‘JPS Technical Standards for Pole Attachment and Safety’.
By E. Hartman Reckord, JIS PRO