Serbia has launched the first phase of the project for the installation of a national DTT transmitter network worth €12 million.
Of the total figure, (€10.5 million has been provided by the EU, from non-refundable pre-accession (IPA) funds, with the remaining 20 per cent covered by Serbia. Apart from funds for the procurement and construction of the DTT network, the European Commission sent a team of experts from the BBC to help Serbia make an efficient shift to digital TV broadcasting.
The Avala Tower transmitter, covering the Greater Belgrade area, is the first to benefit, with the remaining resources to be used to procure another 54 DTT transmitters. However, much more will be required to achieve nationwide DTT coverage and the total bill is estimated at €50-70 million. This figure also includes decoder subsidies for around 300,000 low-income households, mostly in rural areas.
Serbia has set 4th April 2012 as the date for the ASO and adopted the digital transition strategy in 2009. According to the Minister of Telecommunications, Jasna Matic, the method of allocation of the frequency spectrum vacated with the ASO has yet to be defined.
However, Vladimir Homan, the director of the public company that took over the broadcast infrastructure from pubcaster RTS on January 1, described the state of the existing infrastructure as “desperate”. He pointed out it will be necessary to reconstruct all of the facilities before installing the new DTT transmitters, adding that the most important task will be to set up a good transmission network, without “gaps” in coverage. According to Homan, problems already exist in parts of the Vojvodina region, due to signal spillover from neighbouring Croatia.