Digitisation: Govt cancels registration of two Delhi MSOs

NEW DELHI: The government has taken its first punitive action against two MSOs, signaling to the industry its serious intent about sticking to its digitisation deadline in the four metros.

The Information & Broadcasting Ministry has revoked the registration of Home Cable Network (P) Limited and Swami Cable Network, both from Delhi, for not providing information on their preparedness for switching to digital delivery from 1 November 2012,

The two MSOs are registered with the Ministry and had been asked to furnish information regarding preparations for implementation of digital addressable systems (DAS) and their plans for infrastructure expansion as mandated in the DAS regime.

The non submission of data by the two MSOs "is indicative of their lack of seriousness to pursue their business as per the terms and conditions of their registration", the Ministry said today, adding that in the overall context of implementation of DAS it had taken a serious view of the non-compliance of directions of the ministry by these two MSOs and revoked their registration after due notice.

Despite repeated written requests by the ministry, the information/data/details have not been furnished by both the MSOs and, therefore, have failed to comply with the provisions of Cable Act and Rules, the Ministry added.

When contacted, Home Cable founder-promoter Vikki Choudhry said he would move the Supreme Court. "I&B Minister Ambika Soni is being misguided by her advisors who had their own agenda. I will seek justice from the apex court."

Choudhry also told that the action was mala fide as he had already met all the deadlines and even set up toll-free phones and seeded STBs in most homes. He said he had written to the Ministry on 7 August in reply to a show cause notice.

He said it was interesting that even though the government had set 1 June as the sunset date earlier, he had received his provisional registration only on 17 July and, therefore, the government itself was working behind schedules.

As part of regular monitoring of implementation of DAS in Phase-I in the four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, the ministry had sought data/information in three formats from MSOs.

The requisite data is essential to gauge the preparations, including plan of preparations afoot by MSOs to ensure that all the consumers on their networks are covered by the necessary technical infrastructure such as installation of set-top boxes (STBs) in the premises of subscribers so that no consumer is put to any hardship in the form of interruption in Cable TV services due to switch off of analogue signals on the date of implementation of DAS.

The ministry said in a statement that the preparedness of various activities for the implementation of DAS was being closely monitored. The success of DAS depends on timely seeding of STBs at the consumer premises.

Availability and deployment of STBs by MSOs/LCOs are of paramount importance for the implementation of DAS. Timely availability of accurate data with regard to the seeding of STBs by MSOs is critical for the ministry to ensure switchover to digital delivery within the time-frame as well as for taking mid-course corrections if necessary.

The ministry reiterated that "any non seriousness on the part of MSOs registered with the ministry would evoke stern action".

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