Technology

Kolkata could go completely digital by 1 February

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MUMBAI: Kolkata could go completely digital by 1 February with the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry, the broadcasters and most of the multi-system operators (MSOs) pressing for a blackout of analogue delivery of television channels.

The MSOs met the West Bengal state government minister to get the support for an effective implementation.

Though technically Kolkata has gone digital along with the four other metros since 1 November, analogue signals have continued amid seeding of digital set-top boxes (STBs) as the Mamata Banerjee government has refused to support a total blackout.

"The state government of West Bengal has given an unofficial nod to MSOs in Kolkata to switch-off analogue cable completely beginning 1 February," the CEO of a MSO who attended the meeting said on condition of anonymity.

There is one big MSO in Kolkata who is still waiting for digital set-top boxes (STBs) to arrive and is continuing with analogue transmission. Some cable operators are also saying that STB shortage is still there in some pockets of the city.

In the backdrop of this, the support of the state government is crucial. "The state government is fine with the analogue switch-off as long as there is no law and order problem," a senior executive representing a MSO said on condition that his identity not be revealed.

In any case, most of the MSOs have switched off most of the channels except the Bengali entertainment and news channels. The city was expected to go digital from 28 December after initial hiccups. However, an unrelenting state government had warned MSOs against complete switch off.

The MSOs had begun the process of switching off analogue signals from 16 December with English entertainment channels.

The Bengali channels were the last to be swtiched off from 27 December but the Information & broadcasting ministry‘s efforts to implement complete digitisation came to a nought due to state government‘s tough posturing.

"Kolkata should be able to go totally digital by 1 February. We have also been told by the I&B ministry verbally that they will take action if we do not switch off analogue signals," said Manthan director Gurmeet Singh.

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