Interoperability of STBs discussed in Upper House; standards prescribed by BIS, says Prasad

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Communications and IT has raised the issue of interoperability of set-top boxes (STBs) to be used in the implementation of conditional access system (CAS), Rajya Sabha was informed today.

"While interoperability is not being insisted upon, it has been provided in the standards prescribed by the Bureau Of Indian Standards (BIS) that manufacturers and service providers shall declare to the subscriber the capability of STB and its interoperability on various networks in the instruction manual to be supplied with the STB," information and broadcasting (I&B) minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply. "The ministry of I&B is seized of the issue," he added.

The minister said, on 31 July, 107,882 STBs had been imported by various multi-system operators (MSOs) and orders have been placed for more such boxes, adding the cost of these ranges between Rs 2,500 and Rs 3,000.

However, the government is not importing STBs, he clarified. In reply to another question, Prasad said government is examining the matter of regulating advertisements on pay channels.

Dwelling on direct-to-home (DTH) television services in the country, the minister said that as of now no company has been given a licence to operate such a service.

Pointing out that there is no time frame for the start of a DTH service in India, Prasad said as far as pubcaster Doordarshan's DTH project is concerned, the scheme of 'Ku-band' transmission is yet to be approved by the competent authority, Department of Space, which has informed Doordarshan that it would be able to provide the required number of Ku-band transponders for this service.

FDI in print medium

If foreign investment in the electronic medium is taking up lot of government's time, a group of ministers on foreign direct investment (FDI) has recommended that the proposal to allow 100 per cent FDI in scientific magazines and journals be placed before the Cabinet, Rajya Sabha was informed today.

"GoM on FDI has recommended the proposal for placing the publication of scientific and technical magazines, periodicals and journals for 100 per cent FDI through the foreign investment promotion board (FIPB) route for consideration of the Cabinet," minister of state for commerce and industry Vidyasagar Rao said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

The GoM has recommended raising FDI caps in telecom, civil aviation and oil and natural gas for the Cabinet's consideration, the minister added.

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