Analogue continues in some pockets of Mumbai & Delhi

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The switchover to digital delivery of television channels largely happened in Delhi and Mumbai on Thursday without much hassle, but a sizeable number of cable TV homes still to convert to digital for non-availability of set-top boxes (STBs) and also because of consumer lethargy where STBs were available.

A member of one of the teams deployed by the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry to make area-wise checks in Delhi told on the condition of anonymity that he has sent complaints to the police about non-implementation of digitisation in about 20 areas in the capital city. He, however, declined to name the areas in which cable TV homes continued to received analogue signals.

In Mumbai, Mumbai Cable Operators Association (MCOA) President and Shiv Sena‘s member of state legislative council Anil Parab said cable operators in the metro would continue to transmit analogue signals till the end of this month to about 600,000 customers who are yet to install STBs at their homes.

Parab said the association will not tolerate any action by the police against local cable operators who continue to provide analog signals due to pressure from consumers. He said this situation has arisen because of faulty reporting by the collectors of Mumbai and Mumbai suburban districts to the I&B Ministry on the deployment of STBs by multi-system operators (MSOs).
The status in Chennai, which is the fourth city included in the first phase of digitisation, will be known on Monday, 5 November when the Madras High Court orders further hears a petition by Chennai Metro Cable Operators‘ Association (CMCOA).

The ministry on Thursday claimed that digitisation in Delhi was 101 per cent, in Mumbai 118 per cent, in Kolkata 85 per cent and in Chennai 63 per cent. It did not explain how digitisation in the cities of Delhi and Mumbai could be more than 100 per cent. The digitisation data given by the ministry is apparently about the number of STBs deployed by MSOs and many homes in metros have two or more television sets, each requiring separate STBs.

The areas in Delhi where analogue signals are still being transmitted are in the south and east of the capital city.

Cable Operators Federation of India President Roop Sharma too said fear of a law and order situation had forced MSOs and LCOs to continue delivering television channels in analogue mode to customers who are still to go digital.

Vikki Choudhary, owner of Home Cable TV, an MSO, said he had installed only 9,869 STBs till 18 October and still needed 40,000 STBs more. He placed orders for 30,000 STBs from China on August 9 and would be able to deploy the boxes in homes of his subscribers by 31 December.

MCOA‘s Parab on Friday led a protest in front of the office of collector of Mumbai suburban district and said the collector should take the responsibility of providing security to cable operators if consumers react on discontinuance of analogue signals.

"The Collector should take the responsibility of providing security to cable operators because the DAS (Digital Addressable System) has been implemented in Mumbai as cable operators are faced with this situation because of the figures provided by the collector," Parab told reporters after meeting the collector.

The MCOA claims that only 70 per cent homes in Mumbai have been digitised. The association is seeking an extension from the union government so that there is smooth transition to digital cable television from analogue.

Parab said he and his associates will meet the six members of Parliament from the city in a bid to urge them to take up the issues of cable operators with I&B Ministry. He is also planning to meet Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to apprise him of the situation.

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