Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 17 / Trend H. Valiyev /
The analogue television loses its position every year, giving way to digital broadcasting. The reason is the decision of the European Commission. It obliged all the countries, belonging to the EU, to fully transit to digital television by 2015. Nevertheless, the term, fixed by the EU, is being narrowed as digital broadcasting networks are deployed.
The development of digital broadcasting in Azerbaijan is one of the priority tasks of the Communications and IT Ministry, which intends to distribute digital broadcasting throughout the republic in the nearest future.
The test operations in Azerbaijan related to the transition to digital terrestrial broadcasting, have been conducted since 2004. The basis of modern digital television is MPEG standard.
Based on the results of pilot studies and national experiences for digital terrestrial and satellite television broadcasting standards, earlier system DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting - Terrestrial) based on MPEG-2 standard was preferred for all projects. But after familiarizing with the experience of introducing digital television in foreign countries, a decision was made to move to MPEG-4, as MPEG-2 standard became obsolete.
The digital broadcasting is stipulated by the technical and economic advantages of this promising technology. This is a new standard for modern television. The main difference from analogue network is a high quality of image, the savings of frequency resources, a great number of channels and the opportunity of providing additional services.
The Production Association said that about 50 percent of Azerbaijan's territory will be covered by digital broadcasting standard by late 2010. Azerbaijan will fully pass to digital television in 2013.
Today, digital TV has been launched in Baku and Absheron peninsula. Digital TV is broadcasted in MPEG-4 format. It envisages broadcasting of 10 programs on 1 channel.
The number of digital TV channels in Baku and Absheron peninsula will increase up to 24.
It must happen by the International Telecommunications Exhibition BakuTel-2010 (Nov. 23-26).
People should buy decoders to switch to digital television standard. These devices are available on the market.
KUR has already produced a DVB-T decoder for digital TV under the brand Prestije.
TV sets with built-in decoders and new broadcasting standard are available on the market.
The cost of the device is 75 manat. Mass production of the equipment will significantly reduce the costs and make them more available to the population.
"Digital television will be available at the regional level by late November. Today, the Production Association Teleradio operates to expand the coverage zone of digital broadcasting. It builds a radio relay line to the south. The line will run from Garadagh to Lerik region. A line will be used to transmit digital signals from Baku to the southern regions.
There are plans to complete the installation of digital television transmitters in Ganja and Shirvan by late November. After completing the work, the Production Association will begin operations in Agsu region. It will cover the whole Aran zone with digital television.
It is planned to launch a social package at the regional level, consisting of 10 television stations, which will include predominantly Azerbaijani TV channels and will be available free of charge. Perhaps, some channels will not be broadcasted free of charge in the future.
A package will be determined by the National Council for Television and Radio.
Taking into account the wide range of foreign TV channels and lack of demand for local TV channels, skeptics think that people will just stop watching national channels if they are paid.
At present, the local TV channels, presented in a digital format, include AzTV, Public Television, Idman Azerbaycan, LiderTV. Khazar television will be included soon.
At present, the package, provided by Teleradio, includes Turkish and Russian channels besides local ones.
It is assumed that the transition to digital broadcasting will require significant investments from TV and radio companies. According to various estimates, the costs of TV channels in connection with the transition to digital broadcasting, can exceed 1 million manat. It deals with creating private channels of own broadcasting infrastructure, replacing analogue equipment to digital one. Nevertheless, the Production Association Teleradio offers all broadcasters its own broadcasting infrastructure. It is technically capable of meeting the needs of all local TV channels while transiting to digital broadcasting to rapidly transit to digital broadcasting.
The transition to digital television will allow people to get expanded opportunities besides high quality broadcasting. This opportunity allows forming packages on request, using the service Video on Demand (VOD), broadband internet, etc. So, people will have great choice. But they will have to pay for this.