BBC slated to go digital from today; will FTV also meet 1 December encryption deadline?

BBC World, which turned 10 in India in October 2001, turned digital today. The news service will continue the analog feed on the PAS 10 satellite till 31 March 2002. The channel has additionally started beaming off the Telkom 1 satellite for audiences in southeast Asia.

BBC's digitisation effort is not restricted to India but will extend across the full footprint of PAS-10 satellite's BBC World South Asia feed, BBC officials who visited the country last month said. This will cover Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Middle East, Bhutan and Bangladesh. BBC is received as a 24 hour service in 11 million homes in India.

Another channel which was slated to encrypt today is the one that irks India's information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj - Fashion Television or FTV. The channel had promised to encrypt on 1 November but later deferred it by one month. Although Modi Entertainment Network officials had earlier claimed that 60 per cent of the seeding operations concerning distribution of set top boxes had been completed, there is no official word from MEN on whether the operations are completed for the 1 December deadline.

FTV claims a viewer base of 23 million, which it insists will stay post -encryption as well. Sources had said earlier that MEN would be bundling FTV along with Hallmark and DD Sports, the two other channels it currently distributes along with French music channel MCM. FTV had earlier been beaming off the Asiasat 2 satellite.

A few MSOs have already switched off FTV. 7 Star Network, which operates in Mumbai's northern suburbs, has already stopped transmitting the channel. FTV had been knocked off TV screens in Kolkata by RPG Netcom, a leading signal provider in the city in November, following the announcement of the switch to a pay channel.

Among other Asian channels which have shifted to the Indonesian satellite Telkom 1 from 1 December are CNBC Asia, Bloomberg TV Asia and Fashion TV.

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