DAS Phase IV: IBF asked to up campaign in addition to MIB ads

NEW DELHI: Digitisation of Indian TV homes, thought to be the panacea for many ills afflicting the broadcasting and cable eco-system, may have slowed down in recent times, but the government is earnest in adhering to deadlines and has sought active involvement of industry bodies like the IBF and other stakeholders in pushing digitisation in laggard States through aggressive consumer education.

At a meeting of the Task Force on Digital Addressable System (DAS) here yesterday, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) conveyed to all concerned that deadlines and goals posts would not be moved, even while it requested the Indian broadcasting Foundation (IBF) to be more pro-active in educating consumers and stakeholders about digitisation.

Reports submitted by the various States on the progress with regard to the implementation of DAS in Phase IV showed that Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand were the three most backward states as far as digitisation go.

The DAS Task Force meeting, held under the chairmanship of new MIB Additional Secretary Jayashree Mukherjee, was told by representative from Uttar Pradesh that cable operators in some districts had complained that digital signals were not available. MIB sought details so that the issue could be examined and resolved.

Representatives of most other States present at the meeting reported satisfactory progress and claimed they were on track.

The meeting, which was also addressed by MIB Advisor (DAS) Yogendra Pal and Joint Secretary (Broadcasting) Sanjay Murthy, was apprised by representatives of broadcasters that they had stepped up publicity to create awareness about DAS in the Phase IV areas.

Phase IV areas, needing approximately 75 million set-top boxes (STBs) as per industry estimates, mostly comprise rural India’s smaller hamlets and towns where selling the idea of digitisation and getting a STB at home itself is considered a challenging task by LCOs, MSOs and other stakeholders.

Keeping this in mind, IBF was asked by the MIB to shoot off more publicity campaigns in addition to those given by the Ministry so that outreach initiatives could be stepped up further to reach the targeted segments.
Joint-secretary Murthy apprised those present at the meeting that court cases related to DAS were coming up for hearing before the Delhi High Court early September 2016 and expressed the hope that the court would give a positive decision on the matter quickly.

Meanwhile, advisor Pal asked MSOs to ensure that inter-connect agreements are signed with the broadcasters as MIB and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had reiterated. The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) too had held that no signals could be supplied until proper inter-connect agreements were in place.

The MSOs were asked to approach TRAI if they were facing any difficulty in arriving at agreements with broadcasters and LCOs.
Mukherjee and Pal reiterated that there was no question of putting off the deadline of 31 December 2015 for Phase III as far as the government was concerned.

The government reiterated that digitization of cable TV systems in the entire country would be --- and should be --- completed by 31 December 2016.

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