Govt will provide all facilities to local STB manufacturers for DAS: Javadekar

NEW DELHI: Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar today clarified that the new dates for Phase III and IV for digital addressable system were the outer limits but all attempts would be made to achieve the target well before that.

Reiterating that the main aim of the new deadlines was to encourage DAS with use of India-made set top boxes, he told the first meeting of the DAS task force for the final two phases here today that the Government has facilitated C form issue for indigenous manufacturers.

At the outset, he said the entire digitisation programme was an integral part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India plan.

He also pointed out that he represented the viewer and consumer, who had no voice unlike the other stakeholders who were present at the meeting.

Javadekar said the cable TV digitisation process aimed at providing the consumer with greater choices and affordable and qualitative options. The overall objective was to be sensitive to the needs and choice of the consumer. The choice of the consumer was paramount in defining the inputs, strategies and roadmap for the remaining phases of the digitisation process.

He called upon the manufacturers to innovate and explore new technologies for addressing the different consumer tastes and needs.

The Minister added that in the next phase of digitisation, the price mechanism offered to the consumer would be a key determinant of the process, particularly as DAS was being extended to rural areas. As a consequence, it was mandatory for all stakeholders to sensitise the consumers on the benefits of the process in view of the rural outreach of the programme. 

Regarding the indigenisation of STBs, the Minister said that the concerns of the industry had been taken up with the Finance and Communications and IT Ministries and STBs were declared as part of ‘telecommunication network’.

The Minister said the task force ought to identify timelines for implementation so as to ensure the timely completion of Phase III and Phase IV. All issues concerning the key stakeholders needed to be debated at length so as to ensure the mainstreaming of the process with the existing policy. The need of portability of set top boxes so as to provide the option of interoperability to the consumers was an issue that could be looked into by the concerned stakeholders.

Every meeting of the task force was critical as it identified critical inputs so as to ensure the effective implementation of the timelines and processes. Every viewer should be able to get the best viewing experience over the next two years, he added.

He also wanted portability for STBs on the lines of portability for mobile phones and said the government and the task force will study this issue.

Earlier speaking on the occasion, I and B secretary Bimal Julka said the task force provided an important platform to debate and overview issues related to the digitisation implementation. It also provided an opportunity to understand the concern of stakeholders.

The experience of such meetings during the first and second phase of implementation of the programme had been extremely useful in streamlining the roadmap for effective implementation. He said the consumer is the judge of what he gets to see and content rules. He said a lot of complaints had been received from stakeholders during the implementation of the first two phases but he hoped to get more suggestions as well.

The meeting saw various stakeholders raise issues concerning them. Taxation was raised by STB manufacturers and auditing was requested by consumer groups. The broadcaster suggested that the deadline should be reduced to 2015 for both phases. No TRAI member attended the meeting.

Javadekar also assured that there will be sub committees that will monitor the process of digitisation.  

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