Slow pace of STBs & state Govt requests reason for digitisation extension: Soni

NEW DELHI: The sunset date of 30 June for the first phase has been deferred to 31 October because it had been found that only 3.9 million digital set top boxes (STBs) had been installed in the four metros by June against a requirement of 13.3 million, according to Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.

Since more than 9.4 million people did not have STBs by the end of June 2012, this could have rendered their television screens blank causing serious inconvenience to consumers on a mass scale.
The decision to delay the digitsation delay in the four metros of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai was also influenced by the governments of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal who had demanded modification of the dates ‘in public interest’, Soni told Parliament.

Modifying the date of digitisation in the four metros will not impact the direct-to-home industry (DTH) in any way, she added.

In a statement issued on 20 June, the Ministry had admitted that the orders of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Tariff & Interconnection, and on the Quality of Service (QoS) Regulations and the Consumer Complaint Redressal Regulations had not yet been substantially implemented.
"The assessment of these ground realities compels the I&B Ministry to set a new deadline. It is, however, imperative that the modified target deadline is set with strict benchmarks to ensure that no complacency sets in in the system and the new target date is achieved collectively by all the stakeholders," it added.

The Task Force comprising all stakeholders constituted by the Ministry in April 2011 had been monitoring the progress made by various stakeholders towards digitisation. The task force has also undertaken field visits and interacted with local stakeholders. Discussions have been regularly held with broadcasters, multi-system operators (MSOs), local cable operators (LCOs), while the I&B Ministry has been in regular contact with the concerned state governments on this issue.

Meanwhile, matters are pending before the Mumbai and Delhi High Courts and Tdsat either seeking deferment, or against the deferment.

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