With the first phase of cable TV digitisation kicking off in three of the four metros, the Government has now turned its attention to the second phase, which will encompass 38 cities in 15 states. The digitisation deadline for Phase 2 expires on March 31, 2013.
Given the hiccups in the first phase and keeping in mind the fact that the digitisation process is yet to get underway in Chennai, the Government is taking no chances. A high level meeting, headed by Uday Kumar Varma, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB), reviewed the preparedness in Phase II cities on November 6.
It may be recalled that the MIB had issued a notification dated November 11, 2011 notifying phase-wise digitisation of analogue cable television networks in India. The first phase of digitisation has been completed in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, whereas in the case of Chennai, the matter is sub-judice in the Madras High Court. According to figures available, as on November 5, 2012, 22.4 lakh set top boxes (STBs) have been installed in Mumbai, 25.15 lakh STBs have been installed in Delhi, and 17.74 lakh STBs have been installed in Kolkata. There are 29 lakh DTH subscribers in the four metros.
Meanwhile, the Ministry’s teams have been making extensive field visits to the head ends in Mumbai and Delhi to check for violations. Teams have also visited several homes to interact with people and get a direct feedback on the running of analogue signals.
MIB has asked the MSOs to make a thorough assessment of the number of STBs, taking into consideration credible data from the ground level. MSOs have also been asked to provide information about the estimated number of STBs and their plans for procurement of STBs to ensure that the March 31 deadline is met in the Phase II cities.
The Ministry has also started working on a communication campaign to target the specific needs of the 38 cities. A day-long workshop has been planned by MIB in the month of November to prepare an integrated plan of action for a smooth and flawless transition in Phase II cities. The Ministry had earlier written to the Chief Secretaries of the Phase II states to nominate a nodal officer from each state as well as from each targeted city so that a close liaison and coordination could be made with to sort out local issues.
It has also been planned to put in place additional manpower through Broadcast Engineering Consultants India to make extensive field visits in the targeted cities of Phase II. It was reiterated at the high level meeting that the digitisation deadline March 31 would remain intact and that the preparation of Phase II should be done in right earnest to meet the notified deadline.