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Govt moots long-term financing for Indian STB manufacturers

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NEW DELHI: The government is working on a plan for long-term financing to Indian manufacturers of set top boxes to accelerate digitization of cable television. This information was given by the Information and Broadcasting ministry to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology which examines issues relating to I and B.

The Committee expressed the hope that the ministry will be able to meet the targets of cable TV digitization and recommend that the issues of long term financial support to domestic manufacturers to negate easy procurement of Chinese made STBs need to be looked into and addressed suitably by the Ministry.

While informing the Committee that just around nineteen manufacturers were manufacturing indigenous STBs, the Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association (CEAMA) said it can scale up the capacity if there is a demand but for that there is need of government support in creating a level playing field for domestic STB manufacturers to compete with the Chinese imported STBs.

The Committee was given to understand that as of now there is easy facility for obtaining long-term credit to procure the Chinese STBs and this option is not available in the Indian banking system.

The ministry claimed that it had declared STBs as part of the telecommunications network equipment and reduction of Value Added Tax on domestically manufactured STBs. An indigenous Conditional Access System (CAS) had been developed which will give further impetus to the domestic STB manufacturers to produce and supply the indigenously manufactured STBs.

However, the Committee said the ministry may also think in terms of increasing the allocation for Mission Digitization which at present is merely taking care of procedural requirement to support the needs of domestic manufacturers.

This will not only give a further boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the government but also help in employment generation in a big way, the Committee said.

Noting that digitization of the Cable TV sector in the country is one of the thrust areas of the ministry of I&B during the 12th Five Year Plan, the Committee said a look at the budgetary allocation and utilization of funds during 2015-16 under the Scheme of Mission Digitization showed that the ministry had spent Rs 1.25 crore out of Rs 1.30 crore made available at the Revised Estimate stage. Another Rs 5 crore had been allocated at the Budget Estimate stage for the year 2016-17. 

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