The Cabinet has given the go ahead to digitisation with addressability of the cable TV sector on priority basis. The digitization will be carried out in four phases, with the sunset date for analogue cable TV services as December 31, 2014.
It may be recalled that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in its recommendations on ‘Implementation of Digital Addressable Cable Systems in India’, dated August 5, 2010, had, inter-alia, recommended digitisation of cable TV services.
Industry looks at this move on a positive light.
Commenting on the development, Salil Kapoor, COO, Dish TV India, said, “DTH has strongly emerged as the platform of choice across all population as well as socio-economic strata. This is visible in the scorching rate of growth the industry has witnessed in past. Therefore, this ordinance will certainly help the DTH industry much more than other forms of distribution. DTH companies have also clearly demonstrated their capability in faster ramp up even in the remote upcountry areas so shorter deadlines will not be a problem.”
Harit Nagpal, CEO, Tata Sky, added here, “This development from the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) is very encouraging to us as DTH service providers. Digitisation of Indian TV services will aid the organisation of the industry and result in clearer subscription figures for broadcasters. We would like to see digitisation within the said time frame and feel that the acceptance of TRAI’s recommendations on short term taxation relief for DTH operators would immensely boost this process.”
According to Tarun Katial, CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd, “Digitisation brings in fair reporting of subscriber base, leading to standard pricing and will help do away with local monopoly. Digitisation will also increase the subscription revenues for operators and reduce the carriage fee for broadcasters in a phased manner and should help margins in the long term.”
He further said, “Current capacity constraints in analog cable have led to stifling growth of new channels and introduction of technologically advanced content. The increased capacity of digital distribution will drive greater investments by broadcasters toward focused, targeted and HD content. The carriage costs paid by broadcasters which currently remain high in view of the limited bandwidth of analog cable would decrease post digitization. This would allow broadcasters, to make higher investments in programming & marketing thus improving the customer experience.”
The first phase will cover four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai and will be completed by March 31, 2011.
Phase II will cover cities with a population of over 1 million and will be completed by March 31, 2013. Phase III will cover all urban areas, including municipalities, and will be completed by September 30, 2014.
The last phase will include the rest of India, thus concluding the digitization process and will be completed by December 31, 2014.