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DTH News : English movie channels to start phase-wise switch off on analogue cable
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removing channels genre-wise before 1 November
Channels may be pulled out genre-wise from analogue before 1 Nov

The multi-system operators (MSOs) are considering the option of pulling channels out of the analogue cable system genre-wise in phases, ahead of the digitisation deadline of 1 November in the four metros.

The meeting was held under the aegis of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry officials along with the broadcasters.

The 'knock-out' channels would be available for consumers only through digital set-top boxes (STBs). The idea is to give digitisation a push and make consumers realise that they will have to buy digital STBs to view television programmes after 31 October in the metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

"We discussed about how to make digitisation a reality this time. One of the ideas discussed was removing channels genre-wise before 1 November," a source said on condition of anonymity.

The government has mandated the shutting down of analogue cable TV by 31 October midnight in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

"The idea has been conceptually appreciated broadly by the broadcasters and the MSOs. The I&B officials were listening to the suggestions," the source added.

What this means in effect is that a particular genre of channels will not be available on analogue cable in the four metros in different time periods before 1 November.

"This will push consumers to buy STBs. The start would be in some genre, followed by others in succession. This way the broadcaster will also not feel that it is being punished unfairly," the source said.

The implementation of this will, however, not be easy. "Carrying this on the weaker genres may be easy, though it will require some convincing from the 'victim' channels. The tougher genres will resist. Let us also not forget that we are approaching the festive season and there is a general slowdown in the market," said a media analyst.

Meanwhile, the Government today reiterated that there would be no further extension of the sunset date for switching off analogue systems and asked broadcasters to spell out their strategies for going digital.

I&B Ministry officials today held a meeting with representatives of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and stressed that digital STBs must be in place in every cable home by 31 October.

The broadcasters were asked to get back to the Ministry on the exact situation on the STBs seeded by the MSOs they work with.

Apart from I&B Joint Secretary Supriya Sahu, Director (Broadcast Policy and Legislation) Rejji Mohan was also present on behalf of the Ministry.

The meeting was attended by Multi Screen Media CEO Man Jit Singh, Dish TV MD Jawahar Goel, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel) MD and CEO Puneet Goenka, Den Networks CEO S N Sharma and President (Legal & Regulatory) at Zee Network A Mohan.


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Broadcasters, MSOs agree for genre-wise switch off ahead of 1 November
Major broadcasters and multi-system operators (MSOs) have agreed to switch off genre-wise analogue signals of television channels in phases ahead of the 1 November deadline for digitisation in the four metros.

The consent of the broadcasters would not violate the earlier Tdsat ruling in favour of ESPN Star Sports that stated that the MSOs could not switch off analogue delivery of popular channels before 1 November.

Star, Zee, Multi Screen Media (MSM) and TV18 Group are among the major broadcasters who are in agreement with the MSOs, a move set to smoothen the transition from analogue to digital cable TV in the four metros.

Industry sources said the process of phase-wise withdrawal could begin from 10 October, three weeks before the complete analogue cable switch off. The first channels being considered would be English movie channels.

"We have agreed for a genre-wise switch off in phases," Media Network and Distribution Ltd MD and CEO Yogesh Radhakrishnan told Indiantelevision.com. Media Network distributes the Times Group of television channels including Times Now, ET Now, Movies Now and Zoom.

What this means in effect is that a particular genre of channels will not be available on analogue cable in the four metros in different time periods before 1 November.

"The date for digitisation deadline is not far off. All hell won't break loose and it is a practical step to take if we are to move into the new digital era. This is also a way to make consumers realise that they can't view television content from 1 November if they don't have digital STBs," an industry source said.

The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and MSOs had met under the aegis of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry officials to discuss on the state of preparedness of the stakeholders for meeting the 31 October deadline. The government has mandated the shutting down of analogue cable TV by 31 October midnight in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

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TV viewership variation worries advertisers

It may be a dull Diwali for advertisers betting big on television channels for promotions. Viewers who do not switch from analogue to digital cable before October 31 in the four metros—Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai; and there will be some who don’t make the shift in time— will not be able to see their favourite shows or the advertisements that ride on them.
Under a new law, the government has made it mandatory for cable operators to deliver only digital signals that can be accessed through a set-top box. Advertising agencies that buy media for advertisers are feeling a bit lost as they estimate total television viewership to drop by about 15% to 20%. According to estimates by media buying executives, the four metros account for around a fifth of the 148 million television households in India. And according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which also oversees the cable business, as of last month, 32% of the households in the metros were yet to move to digital cable systems.

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English movie channels to start phase-wise switch off on analogue cable

Broadcasters on Wednesday night will begin the phased genre-wise pullout of analogue television channels from the four metros of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai three weeks ahead of the complete shift to digitised delivery from 1 November.

The switching off of analogue signals of all English movie channels will start from 11 pm. They will serve a big jolt on 12 October by shutting analogue signals of Hindi general entertainment channels (GECs) for two hours between from 2 pm on Friday, 12 October, before going ahead with the switching off of analogue signals of more genres.

The decision to switch off analogue channels in the four metro as part of the final push for digitisation was taken during discussions held under the aegis of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Will there not be a consumer reaction? "For subscribers who will demand these channels, we are ready to install free digital set-top boxes till 31 October. They can then watch these channels. They will need to pay for the digital services only after 31 October. Since this is a short window, there shouldn't be a problem," a senior executive of a leading MSO said on condition of anonymity.

MSOs who have not agreed to the switch off will, however, continue to get these channels. The major MSOs like Hathway Cable & Datacom, Den, Siticable and Digicable have, however, agreed for a genre-wise switch off ahead of digitisation.
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