Even as we continue to inch closer to the newly set digitization deadline – November 1, 2012 – debates are on about what caused the delay in the first place, and what measures are now being taken to ensure that no further delays happen. Likewise, even the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has been keenly watching the way in which things are moving on the DAS (digital adressable systems) implementation front. Successful implementation of DAS systems, essentially depends 'on timely seeding of STBs at the consumer premises,' also the availability and deployment of set-top boxes by both multi-system operators (MSOs) and local cable operators (LCOs) play a crucial role in the implementation of DAS. However, to look at the progress in a more effective manner, the ministry requires both – the LCOs and MSOs to provide it with correct and timely information as and when they ask for it and it is to this effect that it has added a new rule to the Cable Television Network Rule, 1995(Second Amendment) Rule, 2012, called rule 10A Obligation to furnish information.
New law for effective implementation of STBs
The new law now makes it mandatory 'for the MSOs and cable operators to provide information as and when it is sought for by the Central Government or State Government or authorized officer or any agency of the Central Government,' according to an official statement. The new rule, which seeks timely information from MSOs and cable operators, as and when sought for by the aforementioned, has been included as part of one of the terms and conditions of registration of cable operator under Rule 5 A and MSOs under rule 11 D.
The official statement further states that according to the sub-section (7) of section 4 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, the Central Government can 'suspend or revoke the registration of cable operators or MSOs', if they fail to obey one or more of the registration's terms and conditions. The inclusion of the rule 10 A in the registration of cable operators and MSOs will allow the Central government to cancel or suspend the registration of cable operators and MSOs, if they fail to provide the information that they have been asked to. 'This will ensure correct and timely submission of information by cable operators and MSOs,' as per the official statement.
Cable TV digitization in essence puts an end to the rather lengthy run of analogue cable in our country, and will set in place a TV viewing experience defined entirely by digital cable. This massive transformation came at the end of what has been an amendment to Section 4A of the Cable Regulation Act, 1995. The amended act now paves the way for the compulsory implementation of mandatory addressable digitization (MAD). The new ruling essentially implies that all cable operators will have to, before their aforementioned deadlines switch the signals that they transmit, to digital, instead of the earlier analog. Those users subscribing to cable operators who do not comply with the new rules (i.e. switching over to digital signals) will not be able to view any of their TV programmes, post the scheduled deadline. Earlier reports confirmed that since only 25 percent of set top boxes were placed in cable TV homes across the four metros – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, the scheduled deadline was pushed further to November 1, 2012.