Digital cable TV wait grows longer

With only 25% of set top boxes placed in cable TV homes in four metro cities, the government was forced to postpone the deadline for digitization by four months to November 1, 2012. The I&B ministry had mandated that cities of Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai switch to digital TV by June 30. The move could spell significant financial losses to broadcasters, multi-system operators and others who have invested in equipment and awareness campaigns and were expecting to begin digital operations by July. Digitization is expected to benefit the viewer with a wider choice of channels and better quality while bringing in transparency and accountability in the industry. 
The I&B ministry said that it had decided to “modify” the June 30 deadline for a complete switch over to October 31 2012. A statement by the 
ministry said, “All the TRAI regulations for digital addressable systems will come into effect from November 1, 2012.” It said that the assessment of ground realities compelled the ministry of I&B to set a new deadline which would now be monitored more vigorously. The delay could be reflected in the ambitious switch-over to digital cable services in the entire country by December 2014.     There were delays in signing interconnect agreements between cable operators and MSOs. Sources said that all MSOs were expected to put in place a consumer redressal system consisting of a complaint centre with toll free consumer care number, web based complaint monitoring system as well as appoint or designate one or more nodal officers and publish consumer’s charter. This had not been done effectively. 
State governments including Maharashtra and TN had asked for an additional six months time to completely switchover, while West Bengal had not even indicated a timeframe.

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