Can we achieve the October 31 deadline?

21 Jun,2012


By Shruti Pushkarna


Under mounting pressure from various stakeholders, the government announced an extension of four months for the first phase of digitization of cable television. Digital Addressable System (DAS) will now be effective from November 1 in the four metros, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.


A press release issued by the I&B Ministry read: “The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2011 has made it mandatory for switchover of the existing analogue Cable TV networks to Digital Addressable System (DAS) by December 2014, in a phased manner. In respect of four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, the digital switchover is mandated to be completed by 30th June 2012.”


But towards the end in the press note, the ministry acknowledged that keeping ground realities in mind, the MIB is compelled to set a new deadline. The statement reads, “…keeping in view public interest and after intensive and extensive consultations, as well as written commitments from all the stakeholders, for fully implementing the regulations of TRAI, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has decided to modify the 30th June deadline for a complete switch over to 31st October 2012 for all four Metro Cities i.e Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. All the TRAI regulations for DAS will come into effect from 1st November, 2012.”


The extension was announced notwithstanding the pending matters before the Delhi and Bombay High Courts and the TDSAT. The Bombay High Court will hear the petition on June 21 and the Delhi High Court will hear the matter on June 25, which is also the date when TDSAT will hear a similar matter filed by LCOs and IndusInd Media & Communications Ltd.


Soon after the announcement of the new sunset date, MxMIndia spoke to various stakeholders to get their reactions on the new timeline and to find out if October 31 is an achievable deadline. While some welcomed the government’s decision for postponement to November 1, others felt that the extension issued by the ministry is not enough for the humongous task at hand.


MSOs welcome the govt’s decision, though some still unsure of achieving the deadline

Ashok Mansukhani

Ashok Mansukhani, Director, IndusInd Media & Communications Ltd said: “I think it’s a sensible development and it will help in smooth transition to digitization. The new date is completely achievable, it was fully discussed in the taskforce. I don’t know about Tamil Nadu since the government there is supposed to install the set top boxes but for the other three metros, certainly it will happen. It’s a welcome step and it was fully discussed in the taskforce and it’s a natural result of the taskforce deliberation.”


JS Kohli, CEO, Digicable said: “We are happy with the postponement. Although it’s not a six month extension but yes we can deliver on the new date. We are satisfied with the extension.”


JS Kohli

Ravi Gupta, Independent MSO, Delhi said: “The new sunset date is good although it is two months less than what we were expecting. They should have given a six months extension, I still don’t think we can achieve the task by November 1. A lot of digital headends are under installation and integration is what takes time. I don’t think anyone from the ministry has done a detailed study of this process. No senior official from the ministry or from the TRAI has visited a digital headend. A minimum of six months extension should have come.”


LCOs happy with the extension but feel four months not enough

MR Srinivasan, General Secretary, Chennai Metro Cable TV Operators Association said: “It is good in a way because we are not yet ready because in Chennai only 2 lakh boxes are available. But now atleast we have some breathing time. Moreover, the government of Tamil Nadu is planning to start some MSO operation in Chennai, so it’s some relief and we have some time to plan ahead and be ready before the sunset date. Actually we expected an extension upto December but atleast we have got a slight relief, something is better than nothing.”


Sanjay McGee, Local Cable Operator, East Delhi said: “Although it’s a good decision, in the last meeting between LCOs and I&B Ministry, Rajiv Takru agreed that four months extension was not enough. At first the ministry refused any extension, but when we urged on atleast three months extension, Rajiv Takru stated that if there has to be an extension then take atleast six months. But they have taken a middle path and decided on four months. They shouldn’t have announced the extension at this point, they should have waited till June 29. Now the consumer will not take the deadline seriously and the pace will slow down. If we keep working at the same pace as of today, then we might be able to achieve the new deadline.”


Swapan Chowdhury, General Secretary, Cable & Broadband Operators’ Welfare Association, Kolkata said: “I am not satisfied because four months will not cover up the whole situation. Government might have given an extension but they have not considered any facts and figures. I say that because 70 per cent in Kolkata still don’t have set top boxes (STBs), so four months are not enough for deployment of such a huge number of STBs. It will not even happen on November 1. Maybe another 20 or 30 per cent seeding will be done up till the new date but what about the remaining numbers. In the June 8 meeting with the I&B Minister it was categorically mentioned that none of the government appointed nodal officers have checked the actual seeding position or the status of ordered material. Unless and until the government studies the ground situation deeply it will again fall back. The actual facts are different from what’s being presented on paper. They should have given an extension upto atleast Jan 1.”


Broadcasters disappointed with the postponement, suggest on strict penalties for those who don’t adhere to the timelines

Sunil Lulla

Sunil Lulla, Managing Director & CEO, Times Television Network said: “It’s a complete disappointment. What is the guarantee that the new date will be held, when there is a date set by law, why should the date be changed? A lot of time, money and effort has gone by broadcasters in promoting and communicating the date and making sure consumers went along. The industry and the consumer suffers because there are some parts of the entire constituent which may not have adhered to these deadlines, may not have implemented the seeding of the boxes. This was announced on the net through a press release, the government hasn’t really notified us. I think it would have made sense for them to invite all stakeholders and agree on a new date if there was to be one and to a process by which these date wont slip.”


Rahul Sood

Rahul Sood, Head- Network Distribution & Affiliate Sales, NDTV said: “Basically LCOs were pushing for a Jan 1 timeline and broadcasters were saying that if you have to give an extension, it should be only for three months. So I guess they have taken a middle path by extending it upto October 31. The TRAI guidelines which came out on April 30 were such that within six months there has to be implementation of the same. I think that’s the loophole that MSOs and LCOs were quoting and asking for a minimum six months extension. So keeping all that in mind, I think ministry has taken this step. But if as an industry we have this discussion again on October 20, then it’s a real shame. There should be no excuses now, timelines have been extended, now there has to be a joint willingness to from all stakeholders to make sure this happens. While they have issued this date change, I think with that strict penalties and penalization code should be put in place as well for those who don’t adhere to the new timelines.”


An independent commentator says new sunset date ill-conceived

Dinyar Contractor

Dinyar Contractor, Editor and Executive Publisher, Satellite and Cable TV Magazine said: “This is not going to work, this date is ill-conceived. There is no way that set top boxes can be procured and deployed in that timeframe even if the order is released today. As I’ve mentioned earlier, delivery time on set top boxes alone is around four months so this extension makes no sense except postponing one more extension. Any date prior to end of December is not realistic and is not going to resolve the problems or the issue, which is obtaining and deploying set top boxes. So I feel that the extension is inappropriate.”


Post a Comment 

5 responses to “Can we achieve the October 31 deadline?”

  1. Venu Jack says:

    iam finish … well job.. to gud job .. sir`s….. “:)

  2. Khevnarajan1985 says:

    when Govt brings the cable to us
    Why the cable operators are blocking and extending
    Are you sure J*Government is active or passive

  3. Khevnarajan1985 says:

    see i m in alwarpet
    i suffer a lot in paying scv
    why dont these government take a act on SCV
    are they afraid of SCV group
    My cable provider–JYOTHY

  4. Khevnarajan1985 says:

    it sucks again,
    Why the government is giving again a deadline
    will it be the last date or again due to to fishy ness in Govt
    Again they will change the date and consumers suffer again

  5. We spend a lot of money in advertisement to educate users about the DAS but couldn’t meet the deadlines. I think before making a commitment with the general public we should define our own challenges that may come in the launch process.

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