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KINGSTON — Chairman of the Broadcasting Commission, Professor Hopeton Dunn, says the agency is to make a decision soon on the technical standard to be adopted within the local broadcasting industry, to complement the transition of the sector's format of operations for television transmissions, from analogue to digital, in 2015.

Speaking at the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce's (JCC) monthly meeting at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, on June 21, Professor Dunn cited five technical standards, originating in Japan, Europe, and North and South America, which the global broadcasting industry stakeholders currently use in their operations for television transmission.     

He pointed out that industry stakeholders locally have indicated an interest in adopting the format developed by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) in the United States, which is more prevalent in this region.  

The Chairman said the need to effect the transition has become necessary, in light of the international community's rapid progression into the digital age, pointing out that several stakeholders locally have already done so, or are in the process of doing so.  

Professor Dunn argued that with the onset of the digital transition, all aspects of Jamaica's broadcasting landscape will be, and are already being impacted in a way that is aimed at creating "richer and more enhanced media experience and content". This, he explained, is characterised by better technical quality, and opportunities for "next generation technologies," particularly new domestic commercial services.

"We cannot pretend to want to have electronic media productions in Jamaica that we want to, not just sell to Jamaicans or show to Jamaicans, but sell abroad, and be operating in the old analogue environment. If we do so, regardless of how beautiful the particular production may be to our people'once these things are shot in analogue technologies, they will find no market overseas," he warned.

The Chairman urged householders to either acquire digital terminals, which enable them to access transmissions with their existing sets, or  procure a high definition digital television, rather than the new standard definition, "which will become obsolete, as we proceed."

Regarding a timeline for the digital transition of radio transmissions, Professor Dunn informed that this has not yet been determined. He hinted, however, that this would likely occur after the transition process for television is completed.

"We have a national switchover steering committee, chaired by the portfolio Minister (with responsibility for Telecommunications, Hon. Daryl Vaz), with representation from industry players in television, in free-to-air, industry players in cable, and the regulators. And for that reason, I think we will leave the determination to that particular forum," he said.

By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter