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Weeks Before the Analog Signal is to be Suspended, the Government Approves a New Stage in Providing Digital Television Receivers to the Population

12 February 2020
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Two weeks before the suspension of the analog terrestrial TV signal, the Government approved a new stage for providing families on social assistance with digital television receivers. While the Republic of Moldova committed to complete the transition to digital terrestrial television on 1 March 2020 – after several postponements in the last five years — the draft Government Decision of 12 February indicates that a part of the population risks not to have any more free access to TV channels after the deadline.

According to the document approved, the families living on social aid will have to request a free converter box by 20 March. The company that will provide the devices will be selected via a public tender and the devices will be distributed within two months after the contract with the business entity is signed.

So far, about 9,000 converter boxes have been distributed to socially-vulnerable families according to the information note to the draft, which accounts for about 17% of the total number of potential beneficiaries (51,782). 15 million MDL was budgeted for 2020 to provide free set-top boxes to future beneficiaries.

The draft Decision also states that the frequencies of analog terrestrial television that will be freed on 1 March, could be transmitted to the mobile network operators in order to implement the 5G technology.

Media Azi previously wrote that the transition from analog to digital television, which was supposed to be completed on 1 March 2020, risks being delayed again. Although the officials denied initially the information, they admitted that there were difficulties in ensuring the population with converter boxes that can receive the digital signal. ‘If we disconnect the analog system now, then about 20% of the population will be left without information’, said the socialist MP, Adrian Lebedinschi, at the end of January.

The Head of Radiocomunicatii, Mihail Iacob, stated that according to the law, the enterprise should stop broadcasting on 29 February 2020 at 12.00 p.m. on the analogue format the three TV channels that broadcast currently in this format: Moldova 1, Primul in Moldova and TVR Moldova.

He admits that the deadline could be extended only if he receives an official request from the Broadcasting Council, from the Ministry of Economy or if the law is amended.

Vitalie Tarlev, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy previously said during a talk show at Teleradio-Moldova that any person who does not have such devices and is eligible to get them for free from the Government would receive them by May.