Massive investment upgrades TV and radio services

Campaign News | Tuesday, 27 April 2004

Fourth TV channel now on air

BY LILLIAM RIERA of Granma International

A thoroughgoing process of renovation and modernization for radio and television transmission has allowed for the initiation of Cuba’s fourth national television channel (Education Channel 2), which entered a trial phase with the airing of the 2nd Olympiad of Cuban Sports on April 18.

New investments will enable an improved level of quality and reliability, says Julio Antonio González García, general director of the Cuban Radio Communication and Diffusion Enterprise (RADIOCUBA).

González reports that “this year, 22 television transmitters with Japanese technology (Toshiba) and four Chinese ones were contracted, which are to replace old equipment being used by Cubavisión (CV) and Tele Rebelde (TR) in 12 provincial capitals.”

Also purchased were “digital radiolinks,” used to link together of the 28 TV centers associated with these transformations to the national fiber optic technology, which sends the signal from Havana to the rest of the country.

Also included is French NEXTREAM technology for coding and decoding of TV signals.

González affirmed that all of this would benefit the continuing development via television of the Revolution’s programs related to education and an increased general integral culture.

In September of last year, he said, the first Education Channel (CE) was already offering services to more than 85% of the country’s population.

The transformation of this medium began in 2001 with the development of that third channel, which at the time could only be seen in the capital and Habana province.

In those centers where the CE was installed transmission antennas were changed, the capacity of energy supply was enlarged, air conditioning fitted and emergency plants established, as well as various civil works, González explained.

He added that when that third channel was set into motion, approximately 28 transmitters with 100 watt and 20 Kilowatt potency were installed throughout the country. The technology used was TMT (Italian), NEC (Japanese) and BTESA (Spanish).

For CE2, the equipment is Toshiba, NEC and BTESA, he added.


But the transformations being carried out are not exclusive to television. The development of FM (modulated frequency) service for radio stations is having a large impact.

González reported that “by the end of 2004, the country will have a total of 148 FM transmitters, the majority with 1 Kilowatt of power,” mainly destined for local stations such as Radio Enciclopedia and Radio Musical Nacional (CMBF).

FM services were not on the same level as medium wave and television. In 2001, only 82 transmitters existed - the majority of very low frequency - in the entire country.

However, “in 2002, that figure grew by 18, in 2003, 20 more were installed and this year, a further 28 should be installed,” he said.


With respect to short wave (a basically international radio service), Justo Moreno García, technical director of RADIOCUBA, announced that this year, six transmitters located in international transmission center No. 1 in Bauta - west of the capital - are being automated. This will allow Radio Habana Cuba (RHC) to recover the spaces that this station had lost in diverse regions of the Americas where its signal used to reach.

In this same center, a seventh transmitter is being installed for Radio Rebelde, and an antenna system is being assembled.

Moreno said that credits granted to Cuba by China for telecommunications that allowed work on the installation in Bauta to begin in 2003.

The credit for $200 million was granted to the Cuban Electronics group by China’s Import and Export Bank (EXIMBAK) via an agreement signed during President Jiang Zemin’s visit to Cuba. It has mainly been used to improve short and medium wave radio services.

On a tour of the Bauta installation with Juan Carlos Pérez Pérez, its director, Granma International was able to corroborate the total change in technology in situ.

Pérez especially emphasized that “of the 45 days anticipated, we were able to reduce service problems to two or three.”

As an interesting fact, Pérez commented that it was precisely from there, and on RHC waves, that the program Aló Presidente, produced in Venezuela, is transmitted throughout Venezuela, live and direct via the national television channel.

Moreno informed that work is also underway in international transmission centers No. 2 in Bejucal and No. 3 Titán in Quivicán. The situation in those centers and the one in Bauta had been critical, he admitted: the equipment was “very old and inefficient,” and the antenna systems and buildings were “very deteriorated.”

During the second semester of 2004, 20 new medium wave transmitters with digital technology will be installed, substituting the old and inefficient Czech TESLA equipment, Moreno reported. Those will add to the 17 that have already been installed, which provide services in 12 totally remodeled centers.

Likewise, he added, 10 installations will be restored, the majority of them in the eastern provinces of Holguín, Granma and Guantánamo.

These transformations will facilitate “a better quality signal, greater stability in services, improvement in the coverage areas of these centers and an increased level of energy efficiency,” he affirmed.

Work was needed to reverse the accumulated “profound deterioration” in the transmission networks of television and short and medium wave and FM radio, further affected by the disappearance of socialism in the Eastern European bloc. Added to that was the collapse of 14 radio towers and 4 TV towers in the wake of Hurricane Mitchell; RADIOCUBA was one of the enterprises in the country most affected by that hurricane.


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