DAS Stay extended to 4 June in Andhra Pradesh, court wants action taken report from Govt

New Delhi: The Andhra Pradesh High Court today extended to 4 June the stay on switch-off of analogue signals in Hyderabad and Vishakhapatnam, even as it expressed its annoyance against the Information and Broadcasting Ministry counsel not giving an action-taken report as directed by the court.

Adjourning the hearing of six petitions to 4 June, the Court also permitted other parties including the Indian Broadcasting Foundation to be impleaded in the case.

The division bench headed by the Chief Justice Justice N.V.Ramana posted the case for orders after the vacation.

The Court also asked the authorities not to take any coercive steps against Multi System Operators (MSOs) for not implementing digital addressability system in Hyderabad and Rangareddy districts.

The bench which was hearing arguments on a public interest petition passed a single order in five other similar cases including one by an MSO, Mr S V Krishna Mohan and another by the Greater Hyderabad Cable TV Operators Association, that came up for hearing before the bench.

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 had also got itself impleaded in the petition saying that there is no need to extend the time for the implementation of DAS in Hyderabad. Hathway submitted before the High Court that Digitalisation of cable services brings out a lot of undeclared connectivity from the cable operators benefiting the Broadcasters, the government and the MSOs.

The Indian Broadcasting Foundation submitted that the Court should not grant any more time against the compulsory usage of STBs in Hyderabad.

According to figures published by the Ministry on 21 April, Hyderabad has 8,81,512 TV households of which 17,37,052 STBs have been installed, including DTH, with the total digitization going up to 193.83 per cent. Vishakhapatnam has 5,42,692 TV households, and only 1,58,291 STBs including DTH have been installed thus taking the percentage to 29.76.

Stay also continues till 8 May in Jabalpur, Indore, and Bhopal apart from Chennai with petitions pending in Madhya Pradesh and Madras High Courts, even as the Indian Broadcasting Foundation has moved the Supreme Court to ensure these petitions are not entertained.

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