Technology

Industry airs views on Phase II digitisation "grace period"

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MUMBAI: What does the industry think about the government‘s decision to allow a grace period of 15 days for the rollout of phase II digitisation in some cities? Well, we at indiantelevision.com decided to find out by speaking to a cross section of industry to find out.

Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) president and Multi Screen Media (MSM) CEO Manjit Singh, who is in Kolkata for the first match of the IPL, is clear that "as a broadcaster I would have preferred the government not giving any grace period. But since the ministry is more aware of the ground situation, I will go with its decision."

Hinduja Ventures Ltd whole time director Ashok Mansukhani believes that "if the government wanted to give a grace period of 15 days, it should have been after consultation with the MSOs who have been entrusted with the task of majorly implementing digitisation. Where it has been substantially implemented, there was no need to give a grace period. Where deployment is below 20 per cent, discussion could have been held on a longer timeline than 15 days."

Mansukhani adds that he would like the digitisation numbers of Phase II which are being released to be revisited for some localities. "There is some dispute about the numbers," he says.

He highlights that the objective of digitisation is to end under-declaration by cable TV operators. "If DAS Phase II deployment is uneven then government could have taken a two step process where pay TV channels could have been switched off first and the free to air channels later to allow for a smooth transition," he says.

Hathway Cable & Datacom MD & CEO Jagdish Kumar is of the opinion that from his network‘s perspective he would have preferred not to have a grace period at all. "From our perspective, we are well prepared with the ability to deploy set top boxes to almost 90 per cent of our and our joint venture networks," he says.

He points out that the lack of initiative on the part broadcasters to sign "digital agreements for phase II towns has been disappointing. We are working with broadcasters to get them moving. Basically, the industry is toying with a fixed fee or cost per subscriber deals."

DEN Networks COO M.G. Azhar is of the view that it was good the government has given the grace period keeping the consumers in mind. "Where set top boxes (STBs) have not been deployed effectively, the consumer should not face an analogue blackout," he says.

Tata Sky MD & CEO Harit Nagpal has the final word. Speaking to Indiantelevision.com yesterday, he had said that there was "no need for a grace period as the DTH operators are more than equipped to meet the STB demand wherever there is a shortage."

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