Plans set for shift to digital cable TV
Metros may go digital by March next year. The whole country by 2015
India's information and broadcasting ministry has set deadlines for the shift from analog to digital cable systems. The four metros Delhi,
Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai have to shift to digital addressability by March 31, 2012. Phase II will include 35 cities with population
of more than one million, like Patna, Chandigarh, Pune and Bangalore: they are expected to shift by March 31, 2013. All urban areas
are expected to digitalize by November 30, 2014 and the remaining areas by March 31, 2015.
Digital cable TV will ensure better picture quality and services, choice of channels and interactive services. The industry will benefit as
the move is expected to bring greater transparency in the subscriber base and reduction in carriage fees (paid by channels to cable
operators). "This is the way ahead for the industry," a government official said.
The proposal has been sent to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and will subsequently be put before the Union Cabinet for
"Digitization will help industry grow at an accelerated speed. It is the key to problems like distribution bottlenecks and
under-declaration, leading to loss of subscription revenue that broadcasters face today," said Zee News CEO Barun Das.
Cable Operators Federation of India chief Roop Sharma called the move a step in the right direction and said it would end allegations
of suppressing subscriber base that cable operators had to battle. "However, I feel that the new system should have been
implemented immediately and not delayed by a year," she added.
Broadcast regulator TRAI had recommended that Phase I be executed by March this year. The Ministry has postponed this deadline
by a year.
Industry insiders said digitalization was the world norm and would bring prices down, not just of set-top boxes but also carriage fees.
Consumers are likely to spend Rs 1,000 for a set-top box but the monthly subscription could remain the same ? around Rs 250-Rs
500 or even drop further.
Viewers will also be able to choose the channels - whether paid or free to air - and pay only for those that they watch. They would
also have a choice of interactive services like those offered under direct-to-home like video on demand, personal video recording, video
gaming, music tele-shopping, electronic programme guide and broadband. This could also impact DTH, HITS and IPTV prices.
Based on Times of India story
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