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I&B Ministry reasserts digitisation deadline

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I&B Ministry reasserts digitisation deadline

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is very clear that the process of digitisation must move forward uninterrupted. To get status of on-ground realities, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Ambika Soni met all key stakeholders of the business on June 11, 2012 in New Delhi.

Members present in the meeting involved IBF (Indian Broadcasting Foundation) representatives including IBF President and STAR India CEO Uday Shankar, Zee Entertainment Enterprises’ MD and CEO Punit Goenka and Colors’ CEO Raj Nayak amongst others, representatives from NBA (News Broadcasters’ Association), MSOs (Multi System Operators) and LCOs (Local Cable Operators).

Minister Soni firmly reiterated that digitisation will take place in the Indian broadcasting domain as planned and that it was important for all stakeholders to work towards meeting digitisation deadlines that have been set out in a phase-wise manner for different cities and finally all India. The first deadline, which would include four metros Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, is due June 30, 2012.

There was been widespread concern that markets such as Chennai and Kolkata may not be able to meet the set digitisation deadline and would need an extension.

For now, the Minister has not agreed to any deadline extension but has asked all stakeholders to give on-ground status reports on logistics such as availability and distribution of set top boxes and the impact on consumers if the analogue plug is pulled off in these markets. This report has to be furnished to the MIB by June 15, 2012.

A special task force would assess the information received and all stakeholders are scheduled to meet the Minister again on June 15, 2012 to decide on the way forward for the roll out of digitisation deadlines.

Industry sources informed that it is likely that digitisation deadline may see an extension once the gravity of on-ground realities is understood.

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