I&B pussyfoots on digitization. Decision on deadline to be announced this week

15 Jun,2012

By A Correspondent


Sad. MxMIndia learns that yet again no decision on the deadline on digitization was taken at the taskforce meeting that took place this afternoon in the Capital. Mr Uday Kumar Varma, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting chaired the meeting and Ms Supriya Sahu, Joint Secy (Broadband & Policy) was also in attendance.


It may be noted that June 30 is just 15 days away, and it’s unfortunate that the Government of India appears clueless on whether digitization in the four metros should be imposed or not. The charade thus continues. DTH operators have been advertising that cable is going to be history in the four metros, local cable operators are protesting and broadcasters are wondering whether they should factor in digitization in their forward planning.


A routine meeting with discussions on issues and state of preparedness for digitization took place between the taskforce members and ministry officials. While no new announcements were made on the matter, news agency PTI reports that Mr Varma said that a frank discussion took place on all issues concerning digitization and the government had taken note of all stakeholders’ views on the matter. Mr Varma said that the ministry had more clarity now on the state of readiness of various stakeholders. PTI also reports that the government is likely to declare its final position on the matter by next week.


In a meeting held on June 8 between Ms Ambika Soni, Minister, Information and Broadcasting and industry stakeholders, the government hinted at a comprehensive discussion on timelines in the scheduled June 15 taskforce meet. The ministry also collected duly filled forms from all stakeholders present in the June 8 meeting to study and assess the preparedness for digitization for Phase I. While the ministry has maintained so far that there will be no extension of the notified sunset date of June 30, it was suggested in the meeting held on June 8, that any discussion or decision would be deferred till the next taskforce meeting on June 15.


A member of the taskforce told MxM India after the meeting today that no decision or announcement was made during the meeting by the government and that the ministry is likely to announce its decision later next week. Another member of the taskforce however hinted that discussion on new timelines led to suggestions of a possible extension upto December 31.


Shortly after the taskforce meeting the Local Cable Operators (LCOs) protested outside Shastri Bhawan demanding that the ministry revisit the matter of revenue share of LCOs. Speaking to MxM India, a local cable operator based in East Delhi said, “We are protesting against Rs 45 share for LCOs. Also there is no clarity on STB price by the government so every MSO is offering it at a different price. And the quality of STBs is also very bad so we are facing a problem with the same.”


Meanwhile, the hearing of the Mumbai Cable Operator V/S I and B Ministry case which was scheduled today, June 15, has been postponed till Monday, June 18.


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