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JIS News

Jamaica is expected to play a leading role in the Caribbean, as plans forge ahead toward the digital switchover in other parts of the world.
According to Chairman of the Broadcasting Commission, Dr. Hopeton Dunn, while the issue of the digital switchover was being examined at the level of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union and also in some islands, the Commission anticipated playing an important role in the process.
The digital switchover is the name given to the process in which analogue broadcast television in an area is converted to digital television. “The Broadcasting Commission will assist in helping the whole region as well as our own country move forward in this new phase in ways that are beneficial to the broader public and industry,” he told JIS News.
Dr. Dunn pointed out that this would be done, despite the fact that the issue of digital switchover has not really arrived at a sufficiently high place on the regional agenda.
“It is my view, however, that it will increase in importance on those agendas as soon as many of the Caribbean territories recognize the benefits to be derived,” he noted. “It is a process we [CARICOM] all have to embark on, particularly given the regional processes that we are a part of, now moving forward as a single market,” Dr. Dunn added.
There are important implications for countries in the Caribbean that relate closely to the United States, Canada and also to Europe, where they have embarked on a phased basis to digital switchover. It is expected that on February 17, 2009 analog over-the-air signals will be turned off in the United States, while in Canada the goal is 2011. “Many of our Commonwealth counterparts have also begun the process of digital switchover, which is seen as the next stage in broadcasting, in somewhat the same way that the switchover from black and white to coloured television was seen as an important transition in how people receive television transmissions,” he noted, adding that the switchover also related to radio as well. Meanwhile, Executive Director of the Commission, Cordell Green said there was a need to bridge the digital divide. “I believe that it is something that we need to address our minds to in a significant way, as a significant issue is arising, which is, the more you are creating the content in digital, those who are not able to receive it might find themselves losing out on critical material that they need to access for development,” he warned.