Channels may be pulled out genre-wise from analogue before 1 Nov

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: The multi-system operators (MSOs) are considering the option of pulling channels out of the analogue cable system genre-wise in phases, ahead of the digitisation deadline of 1 November in the four metros.

The meeting was held under the aegis of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry officials along with the broadcasters.

The ‘knock-out‘ channels would be available for consumers only through digital set-top boxes (STBs). The idea is to give digitisation a push and make consumers realise that they will have to buy digital STBs to view television programmes after 31 October in the metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

"We discussed about how to make digitisation a reality this time. One of the ideas discussed was removing channels genre-wise before 1 November," a source said on condition of anonymity.

The government has mandated the shutting down of analogue cable TV by 31 October midnight in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

"The idea has been conceptually appreciated broadly by the broadcasters and the MSOs. The I&B officials were listening to the suggestions," the source added.

What this means in effect is that a particular genre of channels will not be available on analogue cable in the four metros in different time periods before 1 November.

"This will push consumers to buy STBs. The start would be in some genre, followed by others in succession. This way the broadcaster will also not feel that it is being punished unfairly," the source said.

The implementation of this will, however, not be easy. "Carrying this on the weaker genres may be easy, though it will require some convincing from the ‘victim‘ channels. The tougher genres will resist. Let us also not forget that we are approaching the festive season and there is a general slowdown in the market," said a media analyst.

Meanwhile, the Government today reiterated that there would be no further extension of the sunset date for switching off analogue systems and asked broadcasters to spell out their strategies for going digital.

I&B Ministry officials today held a meeting with representatives of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and stressed that digital STBs must be in place in every cable home by 31 October.

The broadcasters were asked to get back to the Ministry on the exact situation on the STBs seeded by the MSOs they work with.

Apart from I&B Joint Secretary Supriya Sahu, Director (Broadcast Policy and Legislation) Rejji Mohan was also present on behalf of the Ministry.

The meeting was attended by Multi Screen Media CEO Man Jit Singh, Dish TV MD Jawahar Goel, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel) MD and CEO Puneet Goenka, Den Networks CEO S N Sharma and President (Legal & Regulatory) at Zee Network A Mohan.

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