The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has been consistently monitoring the progress made regarding the switchover of analogue signals to digital mode as part of the digitisation process. Minister of Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari has been continuously reviewing the progress.
As per the data compiled from the industry by the MIB, over 85 per cent of digitisation has been achieved in 38 cities across 15 states covered under Phase II of digitisation, the deadline for which ended on March 31, 2013.
Out of these 38 cities, 100 per cent digitisation is claimed in 15 cities, 24 cities have achieved more than 75 per cent digitisation, while 34 cities have achieved more than 50 per cent digitisation. The review by the Ministry also reveals that as against a target of 160 lakh set top boxes (STBs), 136 lakh STBs have already been installed by the Multi System Operators (MSOs) and Direct to Home (DTH) operators. The total number of installed cable TV STBs stands at 91.5 lakh, whereas DTH operators have installed a total of 44.5 lakh STBs.
As is known, stay orders have been given by the High Courts in three states – Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat – regarding the switching off of analogue signals till further orders. The process of digitization in other cities, however, is in full swing. MSOs have reported a huge demand for STBs, which is being met by increased supply of STBs by air lifting them.
Nodal officers have reported to the Ministry that in five states – Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Haryana and Union Territory of Chandigarh – analogue signals have been completely switched off. The MIB is in constant touch with the nodal officers and MSOs to ensure that the cities in remaining states also speed up the process of digitisation.
In the last one month alone about 40 lakh STBs have been installed in Phase II cities. The Ministry had earlier carried out an extensive media campaign about cable TV digitisation, utilising TV, radio, mobile phones and print medium to create awareness among people about the deadline, benefits of digitisation and the need for installing STBs. Digitisation is expected to usher in a new era in broadcasting sector reforms by bringing more transparency in the subscriber base. Enhanced revenue by way of improved tax recovery, enhanced TV viewing experience due to digital picture quality and multiple choice of channels to the subscribers, are some of the important benefits of digitisation. Digitisation of cable TV networks provides an excellent opportunity to cable operators to provide competitive services to their subscribers and help them to retain their business in the wake of competition from DTH and other platforms.
Separately, TRAI has been convening meetings of broadcasters, MSO and cable operators to sort out the issues pertaining to agreements and service conditions.
The objective of the entire exercise is to implement the process in a seamless, sustained yet sensitive manner that causes the least amount of disruption to the consumer.