AP HC adjourns hearing in DAS extension case till 29 April

NEW DELHI: The Andhra Pradesh high court today adjourned the hearing of petitions seeking extension of digitisation deadline in Hyderabad and Vishakhapatnam to 29 April. The interim order restraining MSOs from disconnecting analog signals continues in both the cities.

The court also asked the authorities not to take any coercive steps against Multi System Operators (MSOs) for not implementing digital addressability system (DAS) in Greater Hyderabad city limits.

The division bench headed by interim Chief Justice N.V. Ramana was hearing public interest litigation and five petitions including one filed by an MSO ICE TV through its CEO S V Krishna Mohan and another by the Greater Hyderabad Cable TV Operators Association.

The petitioner Chalasani Narendra filed the PIL saying the Union of India was ‘scuttling the constitutional rights of the citizens by blocking out the TV Channels in the guise of implementation of Digital Addressability System (DAS) without making any efforts for easy availability of Set Top Boxes (STBs) in the market‘.

He also alleged that the government is also trying to favour the big corporate establishments in the cable and DTH industry in the guise of DAS implementation.

Hathway Cable and Datacom also got itself impleaded in the petition saying that there is no need to extend the time for the implementation of DAS in Hyderabad.

The court was informed that the nodal officer who is Joint Collector in Hyderabad had written a note to the Information and Broadcasting ministry that only 30 to 40 per cent STBs had been seeded in the state and had sought an extension of three months.

The note said: ‘As per the information submitted by the MSOs and cable operators approximately 3.4 million consumers are existing, out of which only 30 per cent to 40 per cent STBs are supplied leaving majority of them still waiting for supply of STBs.‘

According to figures published by the Ministry on 3 April, Hyderabad has 881,512 TV households of which 546,892 STBs had to be installed. Vishakhapatnam has 542,692 TV households, and 466,466 STBs had still to be installed.

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