With the Madras High Court declining to extend the stay on the DAS deadline as mandated by the Central Government, the long pending cable TV digitisation process is set to get underway in Chennai.
Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice Aruna Jagadeesan have postponed the hearing on a petition against digitisation by four weeks and have asked the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) to present a status report on the installation of set top boxes (STBs) in Chennai in the interim period.
Talking to exchange4media, SPK Goguldoss, President, Tamil Nadu Cable TV Service Providers Association, informed that the situation in Chennai is the same as it was on July 1. “There has been no change at all and the main reason behind this is the unwillingness of MSOs to install the STBs.”
According to Goguldoss, “LCOs are confused as to whom to purchase the set top boxes from.” Sumangali Cable Vision, the cable arm of Sun Networks, which has been carrying out the STB installation process, does not have adequate number of these boxes. LCOs are also waiting for the Government-owned Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation to get active any day now. However, the company has not received the license in this regard yet.
Meanwhile, the two-Judge bench has asked the Chennai Metro Cable Operators Association (CMCOA) to file a fresh petition regarding the extension of DAS deadline. The Tamil Nadu Cable TV Service Providers (TNCTS), too, has filed a plea against the digitisation deadline.
The first DAS deadline was postponed on October 31 and the subsequent hearing date at the High Court was November 5. The second deadline relief was till November 9, while the third deadline extension was till November 19. The Madras High Court has decided not to extend the mandated deadline further and broadcasters are supposed to switch off analogue channels.
However, industry experts don’t see this happening any time soon since a large chunk of the population in this Southern metro are still receiving analogue signals. Switching off of analogue signals will hit television viewership and consequently, ad revenues, the experts fear.
According to an MIB report, around 62 per cent of digitisation has taken place in Chennai; however, MSOs and LCOs dispute this figure and claim that the actual number is far less. The operators are quoting this figure at not more than 30-40 per cent.