Lebanon Businessnews News

Action plan for digital broadcast
Local TV and Radio channels could quadruple
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The Ministry of Telecommunications (MoT) has appointed an executive committee to follow up on the implementation of the project to shift land audio-visual broadcasts from analogue to digital transmission.

The committee comprises nine members: Its Chairman Imad Hoballah from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), Ghaleb Kandil from the National Media Council, Gaby Daniel, Antoine Boustany, and Talal Assaf as advisors at the MoT, Toufic Halawi from Tele Liban, Louis Riachi and Jean Hokayem from the Ministry of Information, and Mohamad Ayoub from the TRA.

The committee had been tasked earlier with studying the project’s feasibility and submitting a report to the MoT, which was forwarded to the Cabinet for approval. The committee will supervise the technicalities of the transition and will manage the digital broadcast pilot phase.

Talal Assaf, advisor to the MoT, said: “We have just started setting the action plan, but the process will require time and is expected to be accomplished by June 2015.”

Gaby Daniel, advisor at the MoT and Director of Satellite Broadcasts, said they will act as efficiently as possible to deliver the project on time within the set deadlines. “The official authorization was more than six months late, which affected our action plan, but we will try to shorten the pilot phase broadcast to meet deadlines,” he said.

As per the plan, transmitters of all television and radio stations will be removed. “Only antennas belonging to the national television network, Tele Liban (TL), will be kept for digital transmission,” said Daniel.

According to Daniel, a digital broadcast allows local channels to cut down expenses. While the traditional analogue broadcast is limited to one channel per frequency, digital broadcasting allows the transmission of up to eight channels through each frequency. There are eight local broadcast frequencies already operating, for eight terrestrial broadcast channels. Digital broadcasting will raise that number to at least 30.

The transition to digital broadcasting will allow local networks to offer advanced services to domestic users. “Services like video on demand, interactive programs, and specialized channels will be made possible through the new transmission scheme,” said Daniel.

Lebanon has signed international treaties which compel the implementation of digital broadcasting before 2015. The plan will be implemented gradually. The first phase will cover Beirut and Mount Lebanon. The project will cost an estimated $40 million funded by the public sector.

Reported by Rana Freifer
Date Posted: May 31, 2013
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