Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation Shola Taylor has urged Caribbean countries to transition from analogue to digital broadcasting, or risk missing out on the associated economic and social benefits
Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation Shola Taylor has urged Caribbean countries to transition from analogue to digital broadcasting, or risk missing out on the associated economic and social benefits.
Taylor made the recommendation at the Commonwealth Digital Broadcasting Caribbean Forum, held in Kingston, Jamaica on November 21-22, 2017, which examined the challenges and solutions to the region’s broadcasting.
He was joined by the Honourable Ruel Reid, Jamaican Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Gary Allen, President of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union, Patricia Sinclair McCalla, Commissioner at the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica, Rochelle Cameron, Vice Chairman and Director of the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organizations, Ansord E Hewitt, Director-General of the Office of Utilities Regulation of Jamaica, and Ilham Ghazi, Head of the broadcasting services division at the Radio-communication Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The event shared experiences of digital switchover from countries across the Commonwealth and further afield, including the Bahamas, Nigeria, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago and the UK, and emphasized the need to speed up the switchover process in the Caribbean.
It also examined the technical considerations of digital broadcasting, public broadcasting’s role in the digital age, and opportunities for innovative services.
Attendees agreed that local content drawing on the surrounding culture was important, and should provide income by exporting to other markets.
They also agreed that consideration and support should be given to the elderly and vulnerable, and that vital information be provided by reliable, local broadcasting services in times of national emergency, for example during tropical storms.
Furthermore, the high costs entailed in digital switchovers mean that regions should work together on the transition.
This is particularly relevant with regards to regulating broadcasts, ensuring standards and frequency coordination are acceptable and that digital dividend and content is above board.
The process of broadcast switching from analogue to digital has been completed by 54 ITU member countries; however, no independent Caribbean country has yet done so.
Shola Taylor said: “The digital dividend realised by switchover can meet the growing demand for wireless communication, such as mobile broadband.
“The switchover also provides the opportunity for better quality and more innovative broadcasting services.
“These new digital broadcasting services offer large commercial value to the Caribbean, which could be a leading exporter to other regions and I challenge the region to accelerate the transition and reap the social and economic benefits of digital broadcasting.”
Rochelle Cameron said: “Broadcasting has changed and we are entering a new era.
“Policymaking and regulation in the Caribbean should support this digital future and we must all get on board.”
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