After having carried out the first phase of cable TV digitisation in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, the Information and Broadcasting ministry on Tuesday charted out plans for its implementation in 38 cities that come under phase II.
Senior officials said in a meeting headed by I&B Secretary Uday Kumar Varma, the preparedness of the 38 cities in 15 states where cable has to be digitised on March 31, 2013 was assessed. Representatives of multi-system operators (MSOs) and others were also present.
“Now the ministry will be shifting its entire focus on phase II, for which some background work has been done already. We had written to the chief secretaries of all the states concerned asking them to appoint a nodal officer for digitisation. We have also received some names,” a senior official told PTI.
While there are 38 cities which go digital in the second phase, Maharashtra with nine cities, Uttar Pradesh with seven and Gujarat with four are very crucial for the I&B plans.
Officials say that the ministry was planning to learn from its experiences in Phase I. “In Phase I, we had to revise our estimates of the number of cable TV households midway because of discrepancy in the data. This time we have asked MSOs to collect as accurate data as possible about the number of cable households and local cable operators in these areas,” the official said.
I&B officials, however, said that they would base their estimates on census data as much as possible as they felt it was quite reliable.
“We are also preparing to increase the strength of technical manpower of our task force for digitisation. We realise that 38 cities spread across the country would require greater human resource,” the official said.
The I&B official said additional manpower would be included through Broadcast Engineers Consultants India Limited (BECIL) to make extensive field visits in the targeted cities of Phase II.
Officials said the ministry was of the view that its media campaign during the first phase had proved to be effective and it was now planning another awareness drive which would suit the more diverse audience in the 38 cities.
“We want to plan as meticulously as possible because we are firm that the second phase has to be implemented by March 31. However, what gives us some comfort is that many of the cities especially like Bangalore and Hyderabad are already partially digitised,” the official said.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the I&B ministry said it had issued a notification dated November 11, 2011 for phase-wise digitisation of Analogue Cable Television Networks in India.
Digitisation of the Analogue Cable Television Networks was completed in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, it added.
“As on November 5, 2012, 22.4 lakh set top boxes (STBs) have been installed in Mumbai, 25.15 lakh in Delhi, whereas in Kolkata 17.74 lakh STBs have been installed. The matter is sub judice in the Madras High Court about Chennai. 29 lakh subscribers have DTH connections in the four metro cities,” the ministry said.
The statement also said that the ministry has planned a one-day workshop in November to prepare an integrated plan of action for a smooth and flawless transition in Phase II cities.