The 2,400-and-odd cable operators and nearly 6.60 lakh-and-odd subscribers are anticipating that the pay channels will first go off air either by Monday midnight or from Tuesday as the deadline for digitisation of cable television transmission ended on Sunday.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had set the deadline for digitisation of cable TV network in various phases. The first phase was for metros which ended on December 31, 2012.
For cities with a population of over 10 lakh the deadline was fixed on March 31, 2013 and Coimbatore was part of this phase.
The third phase is for other urban local bodies such as municipalities and town panchayats for which the deadline is September 2013.
With the Centre being firm in not offering Digital Addressable System (DAS) licence to Arasu Cable TV Corporation as part of its policy, time is running out for digitisation and the local cable operators remain a confused a lot.
Pay channels will have to face the flak from the Government, if they offer their signals and services to analogue operators.
At present, the local cable operators under the Multi-System Operator (MSO), Arasu Cable TV Corporation, have more than 40 pay channels in the bouquet of 90 channels offered at a monthly tariff of Rs. 70.
According to N. Yuvaraj of Tamil Nadu Cable TV Oliparappalargal Sangham, four DAS licensees have commenced the work to become the MSO for the local cable operators.
He says digitisation will help enhance the picture quality and the number of channels offered.
For example, under the analogue transmission mode, the local cable operators use anywhere between 55 MHz to 1,000 MHz and the operators use 7 MHz for one channel.
Whereas in the same 7 MHz under digital mode there could be 10 channels, thus increasing the capacity from 300 to 1,000 channels.
The DAS licensees, SCV, TCC, Jack Communications and City Television Network, are likely to offer set-top boxes in Coimbatore within a week or 10 days, he adds.