Digital switchover opens doors in Russia

Broadcasting association chief sees need for equipment

MOSCOW -- Foreign companies have a role to play in Russia's government-sponsored switch to digital television. According to the president of Russia's National Association of Broadcasters, they'll be used to supply equipment.

"Forty million households will have to be supplied with digital receiving equipment," Eduard Sagalayev said, according to a RIA Novosti news service report Wednesday. Sagalayev added that 10 million more sets of equipment will be needed for public and governmental institutions.

As many as 10,000 new broadcasting stations must be built all over the country, according to Sagalayev, and many hundreds of thousands of sets of satellite equipment will have to be supplied to residents of smaller towns and villages.

Meanwhile, the government is expected to approve the details of the digital switchover program by early next year. Until then, debate will continue over whether the entire population should be supplied with equipment free of charge, or only lower-income households.