MIB should set up mechanism to monitor DAS implementation: Parliamentary panel report

Standing committee on information technology, headed by Anurag Thakur, releases its 44th report on the status of cable TV digitisation and interoperability of set top boxes.

e4m by Nishant Saxena
Updated: Jan 5, 2018 8:57 AM

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) “cannot absolve themselves from the responsibility” of implementation of Digital Addressable System (DAS) as it is the administrative ministry “to oversee the overall implementation,” the Parliament’s Standing committee on Information Technology said in its 44th report released recently.

The committee, headed by Anurag Thakur, recommended in its report that an accountable monitoring mechanism be put in place at the central level to co-ordinate with the Authorized Officers for tracking violations by the operators and also “to hold periodic meetings with the concerned to ensure that the mandated digitisation in the Cable TV services is enforced.”

“It is evident that digitisation has not only been delayed but would take a longer time for complete switch off of analog TV services in the country,” the report read.

It further said that from the complaints it received, it was evident that “Authorized Officers have failed in discharge of their duties to take forward the process of digitisation and check illegal practices by MSOs/operators.”

As per a notification on November 11, 2011, the MIB’s objective was to complete digitisation process by December 31, 2014 in four phases. However, till date the process of digitisation has been completed only in Phase I and Phase II cities with Chennai as an exception, and for Phase III and IV about 75 per cent digitisation has been achieved excluding Tamil Nadu.

“Apart from the difficulties in the State of Tamil Nadu, the process of digitisation has witnessed significant delays particularly during the last two phases of its implementation,” the report said.

In its defence, the MIB said that the delay was due to stay/extention granted by High Courts in a large number of court cases filed in different High Courts.

Disturbed by the low percentage, i.e. 33 per cent of digitisation in Tamil Nadu, the committee recommended that MIB should “take concrete decision in conformity to the recommendations of TRAI in a definite time-frame” in the matter of Tamil Nadu government-controlled MSO Arasu Cable to speed up the process and achieve the objectives of digitisation of Cable TV in Tamil Nadu.

The committee has asked the MIB to inform it within three months about the decision taken related to issues raised in the complaints filed by some MSOs and LCOs in Tamil Nadu.

Also, the committee recommended the MIB to persuade MSOs to complete seeding of data in the Management Information System (MIS) and asked to inform the committee “about the action taken against the defaulting MSOs including cancellation of their registration, etc. for not seeding the data in MIS.”

For digitisation in rural and remote areas, where there are no digital signals from registered MSOs, the committee noted that “the cable operators have been suggested either to set up their own digital Head End after taking MSO registration or take signals from HITS operators for further distribution.”

The committee has also recommended popularising DD Free Dish in the rural areas by improving its content and rationalising the costs in a better way.

Concerned with some broadcasters and DTH operators having challenged the new Regulatory Framework (Tariff Order, Interconnection Regulations, Quality of Services Regulations and Consumer Grievance Redressal Regulations) in High Courts of Madras and Delhi, the committee recommended persuading the court for early hearing of these cases.

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