Mon | Nov 29, 2021

RJRGLEANER looking to digital future

Published:Thursday | October 21, 2021 | 12:09 AMNeville Graham/Business Reporter

A digital future is coming into sharp focus for the RJRGLEANER Communications Group as the company readies for digital switchover (DSO). The company is planning to spend about $1.5 billion on the project to digitise its operation, according to CEO Gary Allen.

Accounting, internal communications, and other aspects of operations have been completed and attention is now focused on DSO, according to Chief Operating Officer (COO) Christopher Barnes.

Their comments came at the annual general meeting of Radio Jamaica Limited held virtually yesterday.

Barnes says that with the Government’s stated objective of implementing DSO beginning January 2022 for completion within a year, the RJRGLEANER Group would be ready to take full advantage of all that the new arrangement has to offer. He outlined some of the possibilities, including TV anywhere, which will give users the ability to watch content on multiple channels from any device capable of receiving the signal, including mobile phones or in a motor vehicle that carries the capability.

The RJRGLEANER COO says data-distribution services will also be possible using the company’s network of transmitters where there is coverage for clients. Barnes says with DSO, the RJRGLEANER Group will also be able to deliver specialised segments of the total audience, taking into account differences of geography and location.

“Digital switchover is going to be our most significant investment in recent times. Our plan is being finalised as we gather greater understanding of what the regulatory framework will look like. We’re excited at the prospects that DSO will bring,” Barnes told shareholders, adding that the technological avenues being explored could give rise to new lines of business for the RJRGLEANER Group.

GROWING SCIENCE

Noting that the technology is new and that it continues to evolve, Barnes said the science is also growing, and it is possible that with new adopted standard of ATSC 3.0, also known as NextGen TV, the RJRGLEANER Group will be able to provide Internet services. Barnes is predicting that the RJRGLEANER Group will become more than print, radio, and TV, giving more value to consumers and clients.

“Think of the convergence process that we are going through, where not only will we just be broadcast, print and media [but] we will also be able to get into the business of broadband with the existing infrastructure and possibly with the wireless triple-play project if we proceed with it,” Barnes said.

After reporting net profits of $145 million for the financial year ended March 31, 2021, the RJRGLEANER Group is announcing first-quarter June 2021 profits of $110 million, multiples of the $1.5 million profit for the similar period in 2020. The company, which trades on the main market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange, was rewarded with the market appreciation of its share price, which peaked at $4.10 on August 23, 2021, before correcting to $3.75 when it last traded on Wednesday, October 20, 2021.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com