I&B sec Varma: "DAS Phase II roll-out smooth"

NEW DELHI: India‘s historical march towards cable television digitisation has taken a giant leap forward with the government expressing satisfaction over the implementation of Digital Addressable System (DAS) that covered 38 cities and towns in phase II.

Speaking to, Information & Broadcasting (I&B) ministry Secretary Uday Kumar Varma said that analogue signals had been switched off in 33 of the 38 towns at the stroke of midnight of 31 March.

A confident Varma expressed that the success of the first and second phase of digitisation has strengthened his resolve that government‘s digitisation initiative was on track to be completed before the 31 December 2014 deadline.

Five cities in Gujarat and Karnataka have been left out since there was a stay by Gujarat and Karnataka High Courts on DAS. Overall 75 per cent of the television homes in these 38 cities have been digitised, said Varma.

In Gujarat, digitisation in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot has reached 50 per cent with Vadodara leading the pack with 70 per cent digitisation.

Varma also asserted that seven cities including Hyderabad, Amritsar, Chandigarh and Allahabad out of the 38 had 100 per cent digitisation, while another nine had achieved over 75 per cent.

However, he did confess that towns like Srinagar, Vishakhapatnam and Coimbatore were slow in seeding of STBs. Around 12 million of the 16 million TV households had been digitised, he said.

He said the Ministry was keeping a watch on the situation with regard to STBs and said his information was that there were enough STBs at present for all the 38 cities in fourteen states and one union territory.

"It was a mammoth task and I am happy that the switch-over had been smooth, without any law and order problems," he said in a candid conversation.

Asked about the 48-hour cable TV blackout in Delhi, Varma brushed it aside by saying that it has been an abject failure. He, however added that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will look into the grievances of the LCOs.

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