For the implementation of Digital Television in Argentina, its government and regulatory entities have been implementing a series of laws seeking to conclude the process in 2019 as proposed.
Dr. Claudio Alberto Schifer*
In recent years, the Argentine Republic has promoted, through the national State, the development of audiovisual media services; a strategic and advanced initiative, implemented in conjunction with various measures adopted in favor of greater social inclusion, in important areas related to telecommunications throughout the country.
This project, in full execution, is compassionate with the needs of the population, to have a greater offer and quality of media.
The administration chaired by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, on August 31, 2009, began the process of launching digital terrestrial television, DTT, adopting for the country the ISDB-T standard (Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting Terrestrial).
Decree 1148, creating the "Argentine Digital Terrestrial Television System", set a deadline of 10 years for the transition process from analogue to digital television; so the so-called analog blackout, should occur in 2019.
Of public interest
Another fact of great importance for Argentina has been the sanction and promulgation, on October 10, 2009, of Law 26,522 on "Audiovisual Communication Services".
The activity carried out by these services is considered an activity of public interest, of a fundamental nature for the socio-cultural development of the population, which externalizes the inalienable human right to express, receive, disseminate and investigate information, ideas and opinions.
The categorization of public interest, imports the preservation and development of various activities related to the free creation and circulation of the author's works, artistic heritage and cultural and audiovisual spaces.
Thanks to this initiative, various social actors (indigenous peoples, national universities, and non-profit entities, among others) have joined as providers of broadcasting services.
Article 93 of Law 26,522 states that in the transition to digital broadcasting services, the rights and obligations of the holders of licenses obtained by public tender and their repeaters for open analogue services (as long as they are in operation) must be maintained, guaranteeing their validity and coverage area, under the conditions established by the "National Plan for Digital Audiovisual Communication Services".
During the period in which the licensee broadcasts simultaneously, in an analog and digital manner, and provided that it is the same content, the additional signal will not be computed for the purposes of calculating the ceilings provided for in the law for the multiplicity of licenses.
Article 93 provides, in turn, that at the end of the transition process to digital services, the frequency bands originally assigned to licensees and authorized for analog services shall be available for assignment by the National Executive.
As for the radio spectrum, its administration, allocation and control, attentive to its character as a public good, corresponds to the National Executive Power, through the Federal Authority for Audiovisual Communication Services.
This body, as the Enforcement Authority of Law 26,522, is responsible for preparing and approving the Specifications and Conditions for the award of audiovisual media services; being one of its next objectives, the call for tender for the award of signals in the UHF band, for the provision of the DTT service.
The application of digital technology to the transmission of DTT, will increase efficiency in the use of the radio spectrum, through the incorporation of a greater number of services, in the same radio frequency, with a better quality of image and sound.
Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for the country to promote those issues that in the process of implementing DTT, result in a greater benefit in the digital dividend.
The entry of new providers to this television service, continuing with the line drawn by the National Government and Law 26,522, will also promote democratic and plural access to the media by the different social sectors of our country, free of charge.
DTT in Argentina is projected, mainly, through a national platform, which has been declared of public interest; being the "Argentine Company of Satellite Solutions Sociedad Anónima, AR-SAT", in charge of its development and implementation.
Another relevant actor is Radio y Televisión Argentina Sociedad del Estado (RTA S.E.), which from the public sector works on the installation of DTT, having four frequencies (22-23-24-25) in the UHF band; expanding its proposal, up to 16 operational signals.
The DTT process foresees the installation of 46 transmitting plants distributed throughout the country; arranging, in its first phase, the installation of 20 of them.
DTT advances with the creation of new and different digital regional and local television signals throughout the national territory. The DTT development strategy also includes that of satisfying the production of content through a "National Bank of Contents of Universal Scope"; an easily accessible archive that allows all regions to have the content generated by the actors that participate in the challenge of generating quality in television.
The national State has also launched the National Telecommunications Plan, called "Argentina Conectada", which through the installation of a federal fiber optic network will allow greater national production, job creation, better infrastructure and connectivity, and the promotion of competition; in order to strengthen the digital universe in the Argentine Republic.
Another milestone is related to the satellite system that is already operational, through the installation of satellite dishes, having delivered Set Top Boxes to various social sectors; pointing out, among others, rural schools.
As has been observed, an Argentina that fully promotes the development of communications throughout the country, with social inclusion and the construction of citizenship.
*Director of the Federal Authority for Audiovisual Communication Services