Serbia to switch to digital broadcasting by 2012

May 25th, 2009

Serbian Minister for Telecommunications and Information Society Jasna Matic stated that the Ministry proposed that Serbia switches to digital radio and television broadcasting by April 4, 2012. Ms Matic told a press conference that the International Telecommunications Union proposed 2015 as the deadline for switching to digital broadcasting, but Serbia decided it could be carried out by 2012 so that it can be synchronised with the EU and neighbouring countries.

The Minister noted that the state will set aside 1540 million to compensate for the cost of procuring the set top boxes for citizens, adding that deadlines and costs were envisaged in the Draft Digital Radio and Television Programme Strategy which is open for debate until 12 June.
Ms Matic said that the costs will depend on whether the state will reimburse the procurement of set top boxes to all citizens, which would amount to 40 million, or only to the socially endangered categories, which would require 15 million.

The Minister stressed that compensation will be payable only to those who pay a television fee to the Radio Television of Serbia (RTS), because according to Serbian law all TV set owners must pay an obligatory television fee.

The other possibility for receiving the digital signal would be purchasing a new TV set, said Ms Matic, adding that the Ministry for Telecommunication has decided to implement digitalization according to the latest technical standards MPEG 4 and DVBT 2. She explained that these standards make it possible to achieve a high level of compression allowing the transmission of a larger number of channels.

Assistant Minister Irini Reljin said that set top boxes cost from 60 to 70, adding that she hopes that by 2011, when they will be purchased in Serbia, the price will fall to 50. She explained that for now the Serbian market does not offer TV sets which fulfil the digitalization standards which will be implemented in the country and that shops will be obliged to inform buyers which TV sets it will be possible to use.