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Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Olivia Grange has said Jamaica will have to determine its own timetable for the shift from analogue to modern digital systems.
The process, referred to as the digital switchover, is already taking place across the world and has been completed in Scandinavian countries such as Finland and Sweden. The Netherlands completed the process as early as 2006, while the United States will be switching off analogue systems come February 17, 2009. “There will be many challenges but the potential and the possibilities are awesome,” Mrs. Grange said as she addressed the recent Digital Switchover Workshop hosted by the Broadcasting Commission at the Knutsford Court Hotel.
Citing the numerous possibilities to be derived from the switchover, the Minister said that broadcasting companies will be able to benefit from the introduction of video on demand and pay per view programming, providing more digital channels in the same space and high definition television services.
In addition, with digitally produced images, the exportability of content created should increase by quantum leaps, clearing the way for mega success in this area, which no doubt will be fueled by veterans of the dramatic arts and talented young people.
“I also see a digital switchover as a possible solution to the problem we are now having with limited FM radio frequencies. The compressed bandwidth which accompanies digital switchover makes the case I think, that this matter is important in planning realistically,” she stated.
“We must seize the opportunities which will be provided for high quality content creation, diversification of programming and the straight financial gains to be had at the micro and macro levels,” she further impressed upon workshop participants.
“We seek support for a plan of action, which ensures that Jamaica changes in time and is not left behind as the technologies converge and we grow as individual entities, communities and economies,” Minister Grange stressed.
The Minister commended the work of the Broadcasting Commission in facilitating dialogue about the digital switchover. Participants at the two-day workshop included representatives from broadcast media, satellite equipment sales companies, cable operators and public officials.
The Broadcasting Commission has been educating the media industry about the digital broadcasting landscape since 2003, when it convened a national workshop to discuss the implications of the merging technologies for the broadcast sector, especially television.