Decision on digitization deferred to June 15

08 Jun,2012

By A Correspondent


In a closed door meeting between the Information and Broadcasting Ministry officials and industry stakeholders, I&B Minister Ms Ambika Soni is learnt to have given a patient hearing to the various concerns raised.


With just 23 days to go from the notified sunset date of June 30 for Phase I of digitization of cable television, the industry stakeholders confessed to their lack of preparedness and shared individual concerns in great detail with the officials.


MxMIndia has learned that the government made it clear that the purpose of the meeting was to take stock of the situation and not for an adjournment or a postponement. The government it seems wanted to hear the people who actually have to implement DAS.


Sources tell MxMIndia that the Local Cable operators (LCOs) and the Multi System Operators (MSOs) complained about the lack of set-top boxes (STBs) and also informed the government officials that as of today only 20 percent installations (of STBs) have been completed. The LCOs also expressed disconcert with the prescribed revenue share and requested the government to revisit the matter. Broadcasters once again raised their concern over carriage fee. MxMIndia is told that all parties stated their respective concerns with none of them contradicting each other.


While Ministry officials heard all the concerns voiced by industry representatives, there were no formal announcements made by the government on the timelines for digitization.


The Ministry handed out forms to all parties present asking them to duly fill them out with details of the level of preparedness, issues and the time needed to achieve the task at hand. These will be studied by the Ministry and in the next task force meeting scheduled for June 15, there will be a comprehensive discussion on the timeline for Phase I.


Sources tell MxMIndia that the industry was present in full attendance with all sections represented adequately. From the I & B Ministry, apart from the Minister, also present were, Uday Kumar Varma, Secretary, Rajiv Takru, Addl Secy and Supriya Sahu, Joint Secy (Broadband & Policy). Representing Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) was Parameswaran N, Principal Advisor (Consumer Affairs/International relations/Broadcasting & Cable Services).


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