The Information & Broadcasting Ministry (MIB) is taking a strict view on the digitisation process and has asked Multi-System Operators (MSOs) and Local Cable Operators (LCOs) to provide correct data on the number of set top boxes (STBs) available with them and how many have been installed. The development is seen as move to pre-empt a situation where there could be plea for another extension of the digitisation deadline, which now stands at November 1, 2012.
Talking to exchange4media, Anil Malhotra, COO, WWIL said, “Yes, we are aware of this diktat. We have received a letter from the Ministry requesting us to provide data of STBs and various related happenings.”
MSOs will have to provide data on a weekly basis, which will have to be submitted to the Ministry’s office every Monday.
On the other hand, Shailendra Nath Sharma, CEO, DEN Network said that his company had been doing this analysis for the last two months and had been submitting it to MIB. “There is nothing new, they are just seeking day-to-day report from various MSOs,” he added.
Based on the information provided, MIB has sent an amendment to the Law Ministry, which will allow the Ministry to take action against MSOs and other stakeholders if their information regarding STBs is found to be incorrect. This can also led to cancellation of license of the operators.
Meanwhile, several MSOs from Kolkata, New Delhi and Chennai, when contacted, said that they were unaware about this diktat. They are yet to receive any letter from the Ministry, neither do they have any idea about the analysis to be done.
Reflecting the general sentiment of the MSOs, SPK Goguldoss, President, Tamil Nadu Cable TV Network said, “We haven’t got any such information regarding the analysis of STBs. In the last nine years only 2.5 lakh STBs have been installed.” In fact, LCOs in Chennai are yet to get delivery of the STBs that they had ordered earlier.
Aloke Sharma, Secretary, Ideal Cable Operators Association of Kolkata (ICOA), too wasn’t aware about this diktat. He said, “We had a meeting with the ministers on June 8, 2012, where we had given them all the data that we had about STBs.”
On the other hand, Roop Sharma, President, Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI) and Dr AK Rastogi, President, Avishkar Dish Antenna Sangh stated that while they had not received any formal intimation from the Ministry, they were aware about such a move by MIB. “We are prepared to provide the information about set top boxes,” they said.