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Mysore may miss cable TV digitisation deadline

Shankar Bennur
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With five days left, only half the subscribers have gone digital

Half the cable TV subscribers in Mysore are likely to miss the March 31 deadline to go digital by switching over to set-top boxes (STB) though there’s bound to be the usual last-minute rush.

With just five days to go, cable TV operators here argue that they need some more time to shift from analog to digital transmission as mandated by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

‘Not possible’

Mysore Cable Television Operators Association secretary Venkatesh told The Hindu only 50 per cent of cable TV connections in Mysore had been digitised. “Cent per cent digitisation is not possible by March 31.” He reckoned there are around 5 to 6 lakh TV sets — including those under DTH (direct-to-home) platform — in Mysore city. To encourage the cable TV subscribers to go digital, operators have even introduced flexi payment option so that the STB price does not burden them and digital TV penetration goes up.

Two or three months

Mysore has some 250 cable operators, each having connections ranging from 500 to 5,000. The multiple system operators (MSOs) distribute STBs to operators for installation in subscribers’ homes.

Meanwhile, Mysore Cable Television Operators’ Association president Parthasarathy said the city needs another 2.5 lakh STBs to complete the digitisation of cable television. He feels this would entail another two or three months to complete the process. “If the supply of STBs from the MSOs picks up, digital TV coverage can be done faster giving some offers (in payment) to customers.”

‘No overpricing’

Mr. Parthasarathy denied the reports of operators hiking the STB price to make a quick buck during the last-minute frenzy. He said a sum of Rs.1,300, including installation, is collected for each.

However, in some localities here, there are complaints from subscribers that the price has gone up to Rs.1,500.

When contacted, a representative of Hathway Mysore Cable Networks Ltd., an MSO, said, each STB has been priced at Rs.1,200 and at least 1,000 of them are distributed daily to operators for installation. “We stock enough number of STBs for distribution among the operators.”

Referring to the benefits of digitisation, a cable operator in Saraswathipuram waxed eloquent on the superior quality of transmission. Moreover, one can have a choice of some 200 channels at the same subscription fee they have been paying for analog broadcast.

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