Digitization, hyped as the savior of Eastern European TV, instead is bringing us more of the same old thing. (From Transitions Online)
by Marius Dragomir 16 January 2012
As I drove from Bucharest to my hometown on the Black Sea coast, Constanta, last month, I was surprised by how many Bulgarian radio stations stubbornly elbowed their way in among the Romanian stations on the car’s radio.
That would have been unthinkable in the analog world of the past. Back when television in communist Romania showed hardly any sports, I remember how people in southern Romania, like my parents, used to jury-rig homemade antennas to catch Bulgarian broadcasts of World Cup matches and other sports events. And what a challenge it was.
I have nothing against Bulgarian radio. In fact, during my trip, I listened to more of it than the local stations because they played better music. But it brought home the consequences of the switch from analog to digital broadcasting, on the media outlets and on us consumers of media, if the process is carried out in the chaotic way many countries in the region are doing it. Without clear rules about licensing and the allocation of frequencies, deliberate or inadvertent jamming and interference can easily occur, making life hard for the weaker stations and angering many listeners.
Complaints about interference on the radio and TV spectra clog Romanian broadcast regulators’ forum.
For years the press, techies, regulators, advertisers, and even some politicians have trumpeted the benefits that digital broadcasting was supposed to bring: better image and sound, amazing interactivity, and the capacity to squeeze many more channels into the same frequency spectrum. A world of beautiful, diverse, and smart TV was about to dawn.
Well, here we are in 2012, the year when all EU countries were slated to turn off the analog TV signals, and not much of this is happening in Eastern Europe. The reasons are political, legal, and economic.
Image courtesy Flickr user Yisris