TV digitisation at 63 per cent in Bangalore, 45 per cent in Mysore

With a mere five days to go for the March 31 deadline for the cable television system to switch from analog to digital, the 38-city digitisation drive appears to be just about gathering pace in Bangalore and Mysore.

Digitisation status

Data on digitisation status (as of March 24) shared by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) reveal that both cities have quite some distance to go: in Bangalore over 63.35 per cent television sets currently receive digital signals, while the figure in Mysore is around 45.43 per cent.

These figures account for both cable TV and DTH (direct-to-home) connections. Bangalore and Mysore are among 38 cities across the country that are part of the second phase of the government’s digitisation drive, which aims at complete digitisation of cable networks in the country by the end of 2014.

Other cities

The Bangalore figures fall marginally below the 38-city average of 65.05 even as it lags behind cities such as Hyderabad, Amritsar, Ludhiana and Chandigarh where digitisation stands at cent per cent. Many smaller cities such as Pune, Vadodara, Faridabad, Aurangabad, Nashik, Allahabad and Ghaziabad are also far ahead of Bangalore and Mysore.

So far, in Bangalore over 9.76 lakh set-top boxes — electronic appliances that decrypt/decode digital signals into analog for TV sets — have been seeded, the MIB’s data reveals.

This leaves around 8.31 lakh television connections, which failing migration will go blank in a week’s time. DTH accounts only for 4.6 lakh of the 22.68 lakh TV connections in Bangalore.

Similar figures for Mysore reveal that of the 2.19 lakh television connections, 1.19 lakh are yet to make the switch. In this market, DTH accounts for 45,276 connections.

MIB officials said that these numbers were “not surprising” as they are expected to pick up in the last week. “This is how it happened in the first phase, where in the metros we saw a huge leap in the last few weeks. It will catch up,” said Yogendra Pal, Technical Adviser, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Even compared to March 20, when the last set of statistics was released, the numbers have grown by around 2.5 percentage points. He told The Hindu state governments too had expressed confidence that the drive would be complete.

When asked, he said “there was no question of extending the deadline”.

Figures contested

Meanwhile, cable TV operators in Bangalore contest these numbers. Cable TV operators associations will file a petition in court on Wednesday seeking an extension of three months.

They claim that the actual numbers who have made the switch are only around 20 per cent.

“The numbers of set-top boxes seeded so far account for a very small section. These numbers are simply misguiding. If our members have not seeded so many boxes, then who has?” asks V.S. Patrick Raju, president, Karnataka State Cable TV Operators Association.

“There is no clarity in policy and in revenue-sharing, so it is impossible for us to complete the digitisation process by March 31. All decisions related to this have been unilateral.”

Pending issues

The association has been petitioning the government for an extension of the deadline until issues regarding revenue-sharing models with multi-system operators, ownership and quality issues with set-top boxes and the lack of clarity on rate cards are sorted out.

More In: Bengaluru