Govt firm on Phase 2 deadline, claims 60% digitisation in 38 cities

MUMBAI: The Information & Broadcasting secretary Uday Kumar Varma has asserted that the government is firm on 31 March deadline.

Giving a keynote at the Valedictory session of Ficci Frames, Varma said that the second phase of digitisation is on track with 60 per cent of households already going digital.

"Digitisation is happening smoothly. We have achieved 60 per cent digitisation in the second phase. Subsequent to 31 March, the process will be irreversible," Varma said.

Out of the 38 cities that are going digital in the second phase, as many as 10 cities have achieved 75 per cent digitisation.

Four cities have been slow in implementing digitisation, Varma added. These include Ranchi, Srinagar and one in Tamil Nadu, where the state government is vehemently opposed to digitisation.

"Out of 16 million STBs that are to be installed, 10 million have already been installed while six million are yet to be installed. However, we are confident that these will be installed within the deadline period," Varma asserted.

Varma also said that the industry needs to keep the spirit of alignment to take the digitisation to its logical conclusion. However, he hastened to add that digitisation is still an incomplete task as even in phase 1 only set-top box (STB) has been installed and other aspects like Subscriber Management System (SMS) and billing are yet to be put in place.

Digitisation, Varma said, will correct the aberrations of business model in the broadcasting industry and usher in an era of transparency.

He also said that the role of state government is important for effective implementation of digitisation.

He reiterated that the government can step in to provide guidelines for an independent television audience measurement system should the industry ask for it.

"We need a robust and healthy ratings measurement agency," he said.

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