The Shiv Sena on Monday demanded an extension of the deadline from October 31 to January 2013 for digitisation of cable TV networks in the four metros as acquiring set-top boxes was causing a burden on the poor in the festival season.

Party executive president Uddhav Thackeray said that in Mumbai around one-third of the households were yet to buy set-top boxes (STBs) which cost around Rs.1,000 - 1,200 per piece.

“With the Diwali festival round the corner, many poor families are unable to afford the STB in these times of high inflation. Where will they get this money from suddenly? We shall not allow this type of compulsion on the people to install an STB,” Mr. Thackeray warned, in a statement in party mouthpiece Saamna.

He urged the central government to consider the plight of the poor people and extend the digitisation deadline till January 2013 so that the masses were not deprived of TV entertainment.

Mr. Thackeray declared that if the peoples’ TV sets were blanked out from Nov 1 leading to agitations, the Shiv Sena would “wholeheartedly support them”.

From Nov 1, the central government has made it compulsory to install STBs without which viewing television will not be possible in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.