All channels will not be switched off at the same time
A day after the deadline for the 38-city cable TV digitisation drive expired, 74 per cent of the total 1.6 crore television sets across these cities across the country have gone digital. Barring Bangalore and Mysore in Karnataka, and four cities in Gujarat — both States where the process has been stayed by courts — analog sets have more or less gone blank as of April 1.
In Bangalore, around 70.82 per cent of the TV connections are digital, of which direct-to-home (DTH) accounts for 20.84 per cent, according to statistics provided by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Digital coverage in Mysore is around 52.73 per cent, leaving around 1.03 lakh of the total 2.19 lakh television connections analog. These numbers, which were compiled on April 1, account for both cable connections where set-top boxes have been seeded and DTH connections.
Both cities continue to lag the national average, and fall behind several cities including Hyderabad, Amritsar, Ludhiana and Chandigarh where digitisation stands at cent per cent.
Speaking to The Hindu, Yogendra Pal, Technical Adviser, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, said while no extension had been granted — barring the six cities where the matter was pending in court — the government was not coming down too strongly on consumers.
“In some cities, multi-system operators (MSOs) are doing it a few channels at a time. In some places there are some genuine problems, so we are giving them some grace period of four or six days. Even in the cities where digitisation numbers are not satisfactory, we are seeing that the switch is happening fast enough,” he explained.
Another MIB official said barring Uttar Pradesh, which has made an official submission seeking an extension in deadline, other States continued to be implementing the switch. “In States where there is some objection, we are in talks with all the stakeholders, including cable operators and MSOs to work out some amicable solution,” he said. When asked about the revenue sharing arrangement prescribed by the government over which the cable operators have gone to court, the official said that it was a TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) policy.
A cable TV operator in Banaswadi said that set-top box seeding was on. “It was going in full swing till March 31, but after they saw that the TV sets did not go blank on April 1, the demand has slowed down a little. In fact, we have got many calls from consumers who, after seeing other connections remain active, are asking us why we threatened them with a strict deadline and forced them to make a switch.”