Cable ops move Bombay HC, seek extension of digitisation deadline

MUMBAI: A clutch of cable operators in Mumbai have approached the Bombay High Court seeking extension of the deadline for digitisation in the four metros of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.

The court has issued notices to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to reply by 5 June.

Among the petitioners are Kulbhushan Puri and Paresh Thakkar, both associated with Hathway Cable & Datacom. Puri. The operators are from the eastern suburbs of Mumbai like Chembur, Ghatkopar and Govandi.

Interestingly, Puri holds 5.32 per cent stake in Hathway Bhawani Cabletel & Datacom, according to shareholding data on BSE till November 2011.

"Puri and Thakar have filed in their individual capacities. They want to set up their digital head-ends. The Hathway Bhawani JV will run on its own," said a source familiar with the development.

The court will hear the matter only after 11 June when it resumes after the holiday break. The government has set 30 June as the digitisation deadline for the four metros.

The operators are seeking time as they want to set up their own head-ends. "The broadcasters will file their RIOs (reference interconnect offer). The operators need at least 60 days to work out their deals with the broadcasters. They will also have to obtain licence for running their own operations," the source added.

The petitioners want time so that new entrants would be given a fair opportunity to set up their independent ventures.

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