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Shifting from analogue to digital TV signal in Russia is not as easy as planned

Many years Russian authorities prepares to digital TV broadcasting. For this purpose many households, at least in major cities, have been connected to digital TV thanks to telecom monopolies. Such telecommunication monopolies have provided households owners with special equipment and with internet access. But for digital TV in state scales a relevant infrastructure is necessary.

It is not cheap to organize such infrastructure in all Russia, even in major towns. Therefore in order to execute the plan, companies carry out connection to “new TV era” through old infrastructure and create step by step a new one. Russian authorities decided that January 2019 is the last term when digital TV broadcasting totally replaces analogue TV broadcasting, in other words analogue TV broadcasting is to be switched off. There are a lot of things to do in order to cover entire Russia by digital signal and not enough time to do these things.

The switching off the analogue TV broadcasting can entail violations of Russian citizens’ rights the Russian Federal Antitrust Service (FAS) has warned. The Russian TV and Radio broadcasting network (RTRC) and Russian ministry of communication (MinCom) have not provided timetable when analogue TV broadcasting is to be switched off. In any case since January 2019 the analogue broadcasting is dead in Russia because nobody will pay for it, says MinCom. What’s the problem?

There is governmental degree regulating tariffs for services of public telecommunication and public postal communication. Representative of FAS believes this governmental decree can be violated if analogue TV broadcasting is shutting down. According to the decree the services are to be available for everyone at the requirement, including cable operators and TV audience. If after the January 2019 there are still a customers without access to these services the decree is blatantly violated and the FAS must make RTRC to turn analogue broadcasting back.

In other words FAS called RTRC to shift from analogue broadcasting to digital within the legal framework, but don’t make it spontaneously. MinCom hopes the customers will buy equipment necessary to receive access to digital broadcasting, but realizes that it is impracticable. Approximately 800 thousands households would be deprived of digital broadcasting and therefore it is discussed providing such households with receivers for satellite TV for free.

MinCom is not agreed with FAS. The governmental decree regulates tariffs and does not state that regulated services must be perpetual. There will be no timetable for switching off the analogue TV.