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Consumers urged to move away from analogue TV sets

Complete digital switchover now set for 2021

Thursday, June 29, 2017

THE Government is urging consumers to move away from purchasing analogue television sets as Jamaica moves closer to digital switchover within another four years, a transition which has been long in the making.

The plan is for a complete switchover by 2021, the information minister, Senator Ruel Reid, told a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House yesterday.

Senator Reid sought to assure that measures would be put in place to empower the responsible minister to set cut-off dates for the importation of analogue sets by retailers. He said the National Digital Switchover (NDS) steering committee that was set up in 2009 to see to the successful transition from analogue to digital, is now chaired by himself, and had met on June 1.

“This is not a new policy; this is an inherited policy that we are advancing. There was a discussion about setting 2018 as the date to switchover. We are doing the consultation, but again, I am signalling to the country that that is a direction that the country is heading, and so we have to prepare,” he said, adding that the committee is now holding discussions with stakeholders after which recommendations will be made to Cabinet.

These discussions are with a view to setting timelines for activities relating to the switchover, and the disposal of analogue televisions. The information minister said that at intervals recommendations will be made to Cabinet flowing from the various streams of the work of the NDS steering committee, such as including technology standards, licencing framework, service proposition, financing, and analogue switchover plan.

The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) is to be sensitised, and an information campaign rolled out to guide the public, the minister said.

Reid explained that global standards for broadcast distributing have been migrating from analogue to digital and high definition transmission, as the use of digital technologies will lead to improvement in the efficiency of many production content and distribution.

He noted that digital transmission produces better quality audio and audio visual product for broadcast or other media dissemination and enhances the viewer experience with features such as interactivity, additional channels, and subtitling for persons with visual and hearing impairment as well as access to broadband, telephonic and other services.

The NDS committee is co-chaired by chairman of the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica (BCJ) Professor Anthony Clayton; and chairman of the RJR/Gleaner Group Lester Spaulding. The membership also includes the CAC, the Spectrum Management Authority, and free to air, and cable providers.

Senator Reid said he will also be taking to Cabinet existing recommendations to enable provisions in the Broadcasting and Radio Re-Difussion Act, conferring on the responsible minister the authority to introduce dates for the start of digital switchover, and analogue switch-off; specify the related standards; and make transitional arrangements as is necessary.

“It is also contemplated that there will be legislative provisions for powers to be conferred on the BCJ to, among other things, allow for the issuing of directives to allow for a range of matters including anti-dumping considerations and the disposition of analogue sets,” he said.

— Alphea Saunders