Cable TV

Justice Sachdeva refuses more time for cable digitisation

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MUMBAI: The Delhi High Court has asked two cable operators to ensure that all analogue connections are converted to digital by 24 November while denying grant of any further time for installation of digital set-top boxes. The central government had asked all cable operators to install set-top boxes by 31 December, 2016.

Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva ordered the cable operators to make sure that the conversion is over by 24 November, and all its subscribers are clearly informed about the switchover.

“The notification was issued by the Government on 11 November, 2011. Around five years have elapsed from the said date when the operators were made aware that they have to change over to DAS. The petition was filed in February, 2016, and now we are in November. The petitioners have already got sufficient time to complete the installation of set-top boxes and the changeover to DAS. Even post the filing of the present petition, approximately nine months have passed,” the court noted as it said there was no justification for granting more time.

The two cable operators had gone to court seeking time for installation of STBs while appealing that, till the completion of the installation, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting be restrained from discontinuing supply of analogue signal.

On 3 November 2016, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation hailed the order passed by the Delhi High Court dismissing nine DAS-related petitions. The petitions also dealt with the time extension for implementing digital addressable system (DAS) in certain areas of Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and Uttar Pradesh under Phase-III, the deadline for which had expired on 31 December 2015. There is however no change in DAS Phase IV deadline, which continues to be 31 December 2016. With the dismissal of these petitions, the stay granted by various high courts in areas covered by the above-mentioned nine cases stands vacated and will no longer apply.

Meanwhile around 30 more multi-system operators (MSOs) received provisional registration in October. The total of MSOs has risen to 1033 with just around seven weeks to go for switching off analogue signals and completion of digital addressable system for cable television in India. While the total of provisional licences as on 31 October went up from 774 to 804, the number of permanent licences (10 years) remained static at 229.

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