Cable TV digitisation could face political storm in 2 metros, Mamata Banerjee raises voice

MUMBAI: Cable TV digitisation in two of the four metros singled out for rollout by 31 October could face stormy political opposition. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, recently withdrawing support from the Congress-led UPA government, has begun to roar against forcible introduction of digital set-top boxes (STBs) for any kind of TV viewing which she believes will hurt the poor.

Speaking at a rally in New Delhi, Banerjee said: "Our poor people will be ruined. They should have evolved some mechanism for this. What was the need for this decision for making mandatory the use of STBs?"

Banerjee was holding her first public rally in the national capital opposing the government‘s policies, including FDI (foreign direct investment) in retail.

Poor cable operators will be ruined. They will lose business. It will hurt the common man. How he will pay for STBs? Don‘t they (government) want the poor people to watch cable TV and have some entertainment?" she questioned.
Making a veiled reference to the recent hike in FDI in the media sector, Banerjee also said that the government was favouring private media companies.

"They have looted the country in seven days. If they are allowed, they will give information and broadcasting also to one private party," Banerjee said.

Ironically, Trinamool leader CM Jatua was a Minister of State in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry before the party withdraw its support from the UPA government.

The West Bengal CM could find a supporter in Jayalalithaa, the CM of Tamil Nadu. The state-owned Arasu Cable is not yet prepared to implement digital cable in Chennai by 31 October.

However, Minister for Information & Broadcasting Ambika Soni has ruled out extension of the sunset date for switching off analogue for cable television beyond 31 October.

According to MIB, the digitisation percentage in four metro cities has gone up to 73 per cent from 68 per cent. A claim that has been disputed by cable operators from Kolkata and Chennai who believe that the percentage is lower than what the government claims.

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