Cabinet nod on ordinance on digitisation

MUMBAI/NEW DILHI: The Cabinet Thursday cleared the proposal for an ordinance to commence work on digitisation of cable television, thus giving its seal of approval to the roadmap drawn up by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

The ordinance seeks to amend the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act to meet the 31 March 2012 deadline for digitisation in the four metros.
The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) cleared the proposal for digitisation of TV services that will cover all areas by digital TV by 2014.

Addressing the media after the cabinet meeting, I&B Minister Ambika Soni said, "Cable operators will have to abandon analog in the four metros by 31 March next, while cities with a population of one million will be covered by 31 March 2013. All urban areas would be covered by 30 September 2014. The entire country will be covered by 31 December 2014."

She said the draft of the ordinance will now be sent to President Pratibha Devisingh Patil for her consideration, and it will be promulgated and notified after her approval.  
Ministry sources told that the Ordinance was being brought forward as the next session of Parliament was still about two months away and the deadline for digitising the cable television operations in the four metros by March 2012 was fast approaching. (Under the Constitution, any Ordinance has to be approved within six weeks of the commencement of the next session of Parliament, otherwise it will lapse.)

The new ordinance to amend Section 4A of the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 is necessary as it currently does not have any provision for beaming free-to-air channels through the digital set top box.

Presently, a total of around 116 million homes are receiving cable TV signals from broadcasters and MSOs in the country‘s Rs 200-billion cable and satellite television industry.

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