“Day D” for digitalisation
The Republic Broadcasting Agency of Serbia (RBA) is to make a decision regarding the unoccupied frequency that used to be licensed to TV “Avala”. Regardless of when the decision is going to be made, it will finally be known whether the unoccupied frequency is going to be used for digitalisation or the RBA Council is again going to vote on assigning the analogue frequency to a national broadcaster.
If the RBA Council still decided to once again vote on assigning the license to the frequency, based on the objections of national broadcasting license candidates, it would have a significant impact on postponing the completion of the process of digitalisation. Serbia is already behind other countries in the region when it comes to the “digital switch-over”. The final deadline determined by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for ending the switch to digital TV broadcast is June 17th, 2015. If the mentioned frequency would be used for digitalisation, officials say that the process could be completed until the end of 2014.
In addition, the argument that assigning the analogue frequency would “enrich the television content” isn’t very convincing, because there are already more than 100 television stations in Serbia, the highest number in Europe. The completion of the “digital switch-over” is also one of the conditions for Serbia to become a member-state of the European Union. Countries that have finished the process of digitalization received great funds from selling the unoccupied part of their spectrum to operators. Germany received about 3,5 billion euros from the so-called “digital dividend”, and the assistant in the Ministry of External and Internal Trade and Telecommunications of Serbia Stefan Lazarević said that Serbia already lost 300 million euros that could have been earned from the “digital dividend”.
Dušan Marković from the Technological Development Service of the Public company responsible for the broadcasting infrastructure says that this issue could have been resolved in May and that now a few more months will be lost because work can’t be done during winter: ”We are already a lot behind because of different obstacles. We have the transmitters, we have everything, but we can’t start transmitting without permission, and we can’t get a permission because those frequencies are still being disputed.”
While we await the Decision of the RBA based on the objection of broadcasters that weren’t awarded a license, we lose the opportunity to begin the broadcast of digital TV before the deadline. Share Defense have already written about the consequences of the Public tender for assigning the national broadcasting license, the full text is available here.