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Updated: February 19, 2013 12:13 IST

Going digital, but it’s a slow fadeout from analog

Deepa Kurup
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‘Numbers in Bangalore, Mysore will go up as deadline approaches’

Just around 40 days before the deadline for television networks to migrate from analog to digital expires, it appears that the switch is going to be an uphill task.

Resistance from cable TV operators and lack of schemes focussed to drive the migration has meant that four months after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued the order, little has changed on the ground in Bangalore and Mysore.

The deadline for both cities to make the switch is March 31, following which analog television sets (those that aren’t logging in through set-top boxes) will go blank.

47 per cent in Bangalore

Penetration of digital transmission in Bangalore is around 47 per cent, while in Mysore, it is 36 per cent, according to statistics compiled by the Ministry. These figures comprise Direct-To-Home (DTH) connections and cable TV connections that have already made the switch.

In Bangalore, there are a total of 23 lakh television sets, out of which 4.3 lakh have DTH connections and 6.32 lakh are using cable TV set-top boxes.

In Mysore, of a total of 2.2 lakh television sets, 42,000 have DTH connections and 39,000 are using cable TV set-top boxes.

The State government has appointed nodal officers in both cities to supervise the migration process.

‘No cause for concern’

Officials expect these figures to rise dramatically in the coming month. Speaking to The Hindu, Yogendra Pal, Technical Adviser, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, said that these numbers “were no cause for apprehension” as they were bound to increase as the deadline approached.

“Even in Delhi and Mumbai, the numbers were around 30 to 40 per cent till the last few weeks, when people finally decided to make the switch. We’ve seen this trend everywhere.”

In fact, officials said that even in Bangalore there had been a sudden increase as it went from 37 per cent in early January to 47 per cent now.

Mr. Pal ruled out any possibility of the Ministry extending the deadline.

‘Total digitisation’

Further, he said that of the 38 cities to be covered under phase II of the digitisation drive, four cities — Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Hyderabad — had already achieved “total digitisation”.

In the metros

Of the four metros, where analog signals have been switched off as of October 2012, he said barring Chennai, migration was complete in the others. “In Chennai too, 85 per cent have switched to digital. It’s only that the matter is pending in court.”

When asked about contentions by cable TV operators that the switch in these cities was only partial, Mr. Pal said: “We had asked multi-system operators (MSOs) to submit in writing about this, and most of them have.”

‘Win-win situation’

Though he desisted from commenting on policy matters pertaining to revenue, which is the major concern voiced by cable TV operators, the official said that “digitisation was a win-win situation for all”.

He added: “The incentive is that it will help them compete with DTH operators. Otherwise, they will simply become irrelevant. This is a positive thing for them.”

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