No matter which media one turns to, especially television, one cannot miss the news about the fast approaching digitisation deadline. Amid all the news about the various scams, assaults, price rise and preparations for the festival season, one worry at the back of the mind for every television viewer in the four metros of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata is – will my television screen go blank on November 1?
Various industry bodies have released their own reports on the progress on digitisation and the number of set top boxes installed. One doesn’t know which report to believe as all figures vary. The cable TV digitisation report card for Chennai is not all that optimistic, with a vast section yet to see the installation of set top boxes – and the deadline is just 10 days away.
I had an opportunity to converse with the President of Thamizhaga Cable TV Operators’ General Welfare Association of Tamil Nadu, who told me that there is a shortage of around one and a half lakh set top boxes in Chennai.
I’ve also had the opportunity to interact with several industry honchos this week, which has given me a glimpse of where the television industry is headed. My takeaways have been varied.
I got to hear the views of Ankan Biswas, Chairman, Digital Broadcast Council, Ashok Mansukhani, President, MSO Alliance, and some well-known film directors and producers, who had gathered to speak on the digitisation process, as well as how the film industry needs to get on to the digital platform.
Commenting on the roadblocks in going online, industry experts said that the current speed of the Internet, which is at 256 kbps, is not enough for most viewers to view a complete feature film online since the buffering takes up a lot of time. According to the experts, the average speed required is 500 kbps, which is currently not available in India.