Govt expects smooth digitisation in 38 cities in Phase II

MUMBAI: The government expects a smooth transition to digital delivery of cable television in 38 cities by 31 March in the second phase, after achieving near total digitisation in the metros of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.

Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Manish Tewari informed Parliament that he did not anticipate any hurdles in the implementation of digital addressable system in phase II where 38 cities having more than one million population will switchover from analogue transmission from 31 March 2013.

Digitisation in the southern metro of Chennai, where cable television was to switch over to digital from1 November along with the other three metros, has hit a hurdle as cable operators have sought more time.

Tewari said the matter was sub-judice in the case of Chennai, where a petition challenging digitisation is pending in the Madras High Court.

He said the ministry was in constant touch with the multi-system operators (MSOs) to assess and monitor the availability and seeding of set-top boxes (STBs), which were required for delivery of digital signals on to television sets.

He clarified that the entire cost of digitisation would be borne by the industry. According to an estimate by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) in June 2010, the fund requirement for DAS at all India level was of the order of Rs 200 to Rs 500 billion.

There is no scheme for providing any economic relief to consumers in the implementation of DAS, he added.

On the phase I of digitisation, Tewari said a total of 8.10 million set-top boxes (STBs) were installed in the four metros as on 4 December.

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