With the High Court giving the green signal for analog television signals to be turned off, cable TV subscribers who are yet to get their set-top boxes (STBs) seeded will find their TV sets go blank.
Cable TV operators, whose plea has been dismissed, are understandably miffed with the verdict. They say that over the past two weeks, since the 38-city digitisation deadline expired on April 1, more STBs have been installed. However, they claim that digitisation level is still barely 50 per cent. Government figures, as of April 5, pegged it at around 72 per cent, said sources in the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Said Patrick Raju, president of the Karnataka State Cable TV Operators’ Association: “Analog signals, we are told, will go off. But in many cities where they are claiming 100 per cent digitisation, analog signals have not gone off completely. It seems to be the prerogative of the broadcaster as some channels are still available in those cities.”
Mr. Raju added that it was the wrong time to cut off signals completely given that it is summer holidays for many, and TV viewership is at its peak since the Indian Premier League season 6 is on. Another cable operator from Banasawadi said that over the past two weeks digitisation had slowed down considerably as people were expecting the deadline to be extended by a few more months.
An official working with a Bangalore-based multi-system operator (MSO) said that the signals are likely to go off completely. “It is not in our hands. The decision is made by the broadcasters and most of them have informed that they are going to be strict about the deadline.”
The official added that the digitisation level in Bangalore was not as much a source of concern as the figures in Mysore.