On October 16, round table discussion on switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting was held in Yerevan.
According to timeline by the RA Government, digital broadcasting will be introduced in Armenia within the first six months of 2015 (in the first quarter in test mode). Amendments to the broadcasting legislation, adopted in June 2013, foresee complete termination of analogue broadcasting in Armenia from July 1, 2015.
Digitalization, at least at the first stage, will lead to dramatic decrease of TV channels, especially regional ones. Media experts believe that this will exacerbate the lack of diversity and pluralism in Armenian TV, and may lead to monopolization of broadcasting sphere.
Report on digitalization process prepared by the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression with the support of OSCE Office in Yerevan was discussed at the round table. The report analyzed the implementation of the Armenian Government’s Action Plan on transition from analogue to digital broadcasting from the three aspects: legal, technical and social.
The participants of the event also were introduced to the package of amendments to the broadcasting legislation developed by Yerevan Press Club, Media Initiatives Center (former Internews Armenia) and Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression. The amendments suggested by media NGOs, in case of being adopted, will allow to better organize the process of digitalization.
Boris Navasardian, President of Yerevan Press Club, speaking at the round table, compared the process of digitalization in Armenia with the experience of other countries. In his opinion, Georgian example is worth a particular attention, since there, due to establishment of private multiplexes, digitalization will not lead to decrease in the number of existing broadcasters.
Director of “Ankyun+3” regional TV company Sos Siradeghian expressed his readiness to establish a private multiplex if it is envisaged by law. This will allow the regional TV companies which do not have license to broadcast through public digital network, to continue their activities after analogue broadcasting is ended.
Executive Director of Media Initiatives Center Nouneh Sargsian stressed the importance of the social aspect of digitalization. In particular, the necessity of providing decoders to low income families, as well as raising the awareness on digitalization.
Meanwhile, Grigor Amalian, General Director of the “Television and Radio Broadcasting Network of Armenia” CJSC, stated that by the end of October of this year a number of TV companies will switch to digital broadcasting in Yerevan.