The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has been consistently monitoring the progress made regarding the switch over of Analogue Cable Television signals to Digital mode as part of Digitization during Phase II of the process, the deadline for which ended on the midnight of 31st March, 2013. The Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Shri Manish Tewari has been reviewing the progress continuously keeping consumer interest uppermost in mind. 38 cities in 15 States of India entered in the Digital phase from 1st April, 2013.
As per the recent data compiled from the industry by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, over 85% of digitization has been achieved in these cities. Out of the 38 cities, 15 cities have achieved nearly 100%, 24 cities in all have achieved more than 75% and 34 cities have achieved more than 50% Digitization. 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 lakhs whereas DTH operators have installed a total of 44.5 lakhs STBs.
In three States i.e., Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, stay orders have been given by Hon™ble High Courts on the switch off of the analogue signals till further orders. The process of digitization, however, in other cities is in full swing. MSOs have reported that there is huge demand for STBs which is being met by increased supply of STBs by air lifting of STBs.
Nodal Officers have reported to the Ministry that in 5 states i.e Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Haryana and Union Territory of Chandigarh, analogue signals have been completely switched off. Ministry is in constant touch with the Nodal Officers and MSOs to ensure that the cities in remaining states also speed up the process of digitization.
In the last one month alone about 40 lakh STBs have been installed in Phase II cities, which is a remarkable feat. Ministry had earlier carried out an extensive Media campaign about Cable TV digitization, utilizing TV, Radio, Mobile phones and Print Medium etc., to create awareness among people about the deadline, benefits of digitization and the need for installing STBs. It is expected that digitization would usher in a new era in broadcasting sector reforms by bringing more transparency in the subscriber base. The entire process of digitization would lead to several benefits for stake holders including Government. 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 digitization. Improved subscription revenue is also expected to benefit broadcasters and cable industry. Digitization 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 the meeting 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. Further, the Ministry has advised MSOs to exercise utmost caution so that least amount of inconvenience is caused to subscribers/consumers. Wherever necessary the process has been implemented in a circumspect way so as to ensure that consumers can get access to STBs.