Ensure digitised feed from July 1: Broadcasters

29 May,2012

By A Correspondent


Television broadcasters have urged the government to stick to the deadline of June 30 for mandatory cable digitisation in the four metros and slammed vested interests who were trying to create roadblocks.


Cable digitisation in India has been hailed as the break of a new dawn for the entire broadcasting industry and all stakeholders – viewers, cable operators, multi system operators and broadcasters will benefit from it.


“By and large, the industry has welcomed this transformation, but it is unfortunate that there are certain pockets of vested interests that are trying to create roadblocks,” said Uday Shankar, president of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation and the chief executive officer of Star India. “We remain confident that the government, TRAI, the parliamentary committee and for that matter even the courts will not allow these isolated voices to jettison what now is a national mandate.”


Cable digitisation will to allow viewers to get more channels and will give them the option of refusing channels that they do not want. Being digital, it will also provide better quality of sound and picture. For MSOs, this would mean better transparency and ability to get a clearer idea of the number of subscribers. MSOs will therefore be able to declare revenues more precisely. With high bandwidth at their disposal, they will now be able to offer value added services and improve revenues.


But some cable operators have cited unavailability of digital set top boxes and urged the government to extend the deadline.


“The deadline must and has to be met. If it doesn’t happen on time, the confidence in this transition will completely evaporate and investments will not come in,” said Sunil Lulla, managing director and chief executive officer of Times Television Network, which runs Times Now, ET Now and Movies Now channels.


In the current cable regime, broadcasters have been finding it difficult to generate revenues and scale up. “Broadcasters, particularly news broadcasters, have been crippled with huge carriage costs and poor subscription revenues. Digitisation changes all that. We will have far more resources to put into content, which will again benefit the consumer a great deal,” said KVL Narayan Rao, president of the News Broadcasters’ Association and executive vice-chairperson of the NDTV Group.


Digitisation will benefit broadcasters as they will no longer have to pay large carriage fees and will now be able to get better subscription revenues. In the run up to the deadline, over the last two months, many television broadcasters have been communicating the shift towards digitalization at least five times a day.


“Yes, there will be some disruption during this process but this is a game changing transition for the industry in India,” said Mr Lulla.


Source: The Economic Times
Copyright © 2012, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved


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