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Help Digitisation extension 2015: MSOs, LMOs smile; broadcasters sigh
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MUMBAI:It was a decision that most had been anticipating would be taken. But when it did come,it
came as a bolt from the blue.Four
months before cable TV digitisation had to be completed pan India, the government -
through information and broadcasting (I&B)
secretary Bimal Julka - announced to industry
via indiantelevision.com that a decision had
been taken to extend it to December 2015.
(While this is what Julka has told us, certain
sections in the industry have suggested that
end-2015 is the analogue sunset date for
phase III towns and villages; the date for phase
IV regions may end up being December 2016.)
Earlier this year, the previous UPA
government’s Information and Broadcasting
(I&B) Minister Manish Tewari had held a task
force meet with all the stakeholders to state
that digitisation was to go on as planned with
phases III and IV being merged. The deadline
was December 2014 to implement digitisation
in digital addressable system (DAS) phase III
and IV while simultaneously implementing
billing in phase I and II, which was to have
been done much earlier.
However, the new advancement of the deadline
by the current BJP government, comes across
as a breather to the beleaguered and
unprepared cable TV industry that claims to
be facing a shortage of funds to execute the
seeding of 75 million boxes.
The MSO and LCO fraternity is heaving a sigh
of relief following the extension. Says Den
Networks CEO SN Sharma: “After long, the
government’s commitment is visible and there
is clarity of date. For phase I and II we had
built the tempo and campaign well in time and
now with this announcement, things for phase
III and IV will also fall in place. The
government is also keen to push indigenous
production of set top boxes which will bring
out a 15 per cent reduction in prices. These
next two phases constitute about 70 per cent
of the cable TV base. We are now waiting for
STB producers to tell us they can deliver the
demand."
The new I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar has
time and again reiterated the government's
intention to give a fillip to indigenously
produced STBs.
LCOs seem to be a happy lot. Says Maharashtra
Cable Operators Foundation (MCOF) president
Arvind Prabhoo, “This gives time for the last
mile operator (LMO) to plan for a year and
execute it as mandated by the Telecom
Regulatory Authority of India. Our association
will educate LMOs about the benefits of
digitisation. We will be able to rope in more
investors and manufacturers to come up with
schemes for executing voluntary digitisation.”
Digitisation in DAS I and II areas has also not
yet been implemented in the way as had been
envisaged. Billing and conditional access
systems (CAS) have yet to take off in several
DAS I and II towns.
IMCL managing director and group CEO Tony
D’silva feels that the extension does not make
much of a difference if the government’s
resolve is not strong enough. “Just by
postponing or sticking to a date does not
change the speed of digitisation. It has to be a
much more detailed and flushed out action
plan on how the MSO, LCO, broadcaster and
the government will be brought together. It is
great that they have clarified their position,
now there needs to be an actionable plan by
putting together a core committee,” he opines.
However, the most unhappy of the lot are the
broadcasters because it delays their dreams of
getting higher subscription revenues from
MSO, cable ops, and the subscriber by a year.
Most feel that the one year delay will lead to
everyone in the ecosystem slackening the pace,
with delays hitting the process and spread of
digitisation once again.READ MORE AT [url="http://www.indiantelevision.com/cable-tv/msos/digitisation-extension-2015-msos-lmos-smile-broadcasters-sigh-140825"]Digitisation extension 2015: MSOs, LMOs smile; broadcasters sigh | Indian Television Dot Com[/url]
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