The Delhi High Court in its recent verdict favoured complete digitisation by December 31 2016, a move which has been welcomed by broadcasters but with cautious optimism. Cable operators, DTH players and STB manufacturers offer a similar view since the short deadline maybe difficult to achieve.
Sharing his views on the Delhi High Court order, Jawahar Goel, Promoter and Managing Director, Dish TV said, “With this verdict the pay broadcasters are in the pilot seat and the FTA broadcasters should also get involved in that.”
Underlining the need for the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) to step in and assess the ground reality, Tony D’silva, MD & CEO - IndusInd Media & Communications Limited said, “The recent court judgement comes as a great respite to all of us who have been struggling to digitize Phase 3. What is now important is that the MIB considers the practicality of the ground and announces realistic sunset dates for Phase 4.”
It must be mentioned that the date for implementation of DAS Phase III was earlier set for 30 September 2014 and was later extended to 31 December 2015 by a notification issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB).
“We welcome this order by the Delhi High Court and this move will usher in greater transparency in the system,” added Jagjit Singh Kohli, MD & CEO, Digicable.
Those who oppose the verdict state that there is a huge gap between availability of set-top boxes and the households to be connected. To quote the figures of MIB, a total of 1.98 crore set-top boxes have been seeded in Phase IV until 26 October, which takes the total STB seeding in all four phases to 9.24 crore. However, the last and final phase of DAS covers 61.08 million TV rural households spanning 28 states and six Union Territories, as per data provided by the MIB based on 2011 Census report.
Expressing scepticism about the implementation of the High Court order, Donna Tarakkal, Manager, Cable TV Operators Association, Kerala Chapter said, “There are still many challenges left to be addressed and the biggest one is the availability of set top boxes. In my opinion, it will take more time to get it implemented and the 31st December deadline seems totally unrealistic.”
Sharing the perspective of set-top box manufacturers, Manikandan.S, CEO, RIDSYS said, “I think the implementation process will take time. As far as the availability of set-top boxes is concerned, the manufacturers are well equipped to handle any kind of demand, however given the objections raised by some cable operators the implementation might get delayed further.”
One of the main reasons for the earlier delay was the nationwide litigations that were filed against the implementation order. A total of 62 cases had been filed in different courts and 29 cases had been transferred by various courts to Delhi. Of the 62 cases, 12 had been disposed off by respective courts and three cases had been withdrawn by the petitioners.