State Chief Secretary P K Tripathi claims that Delhi has achieved its target of installing STBs, reports The Hindu. Tripathi has claimed that the capital has been successful in making the switch from analogue signals to digital. He shared that 33.41 lakh households Delhi own television sets, boasting of a penetration rate of 88 percent. Of these, Tripathi added that 22.98 lakh households already had cable TV connections, and in these households 23.21 lakh cable TV STBs had been installed already.
A recent government report, which claimed that Mumbai was close to attaining 100 percent digitisation, gave the impression that when the D-day arrives, no household would face a TV blackout. However, the head of the Mumbai Cable Operators' Association (MCOA) claims that 5 to 6 lakh set top boxes (STBs) are to be installed in Mumbai yet. The MCOA is approaching the Supreme Court with demands to extend the digitisation deadline by two months. Tech2 got in touch with Anil Parab, head of the MCOA and Shiv Sena Member of Legislative Council, in an attempt to uncover more.
Parab shared that the two-month extension was necessary as almost 5 to 6 lakh set top boxes (STBs) are to be installed yet. In March this year, the MCOA completed 35 to 45 percent of the installation work, which went up to 70 to 75 percent in October. When asked about the figures presented by the I&B ministry on the installation numbers, Parab was quick to reply that the numbers were false. “If it were true, why are there so many people with no connection today?” he asked. He highlighted that a lot of people waited till the last moment to opt for digitisation, which left them with no connection once the deadline arrived. “How can those earning Rs 4,000 – Rs 5,000 a month afford a set top box costing so much?” he added, bringing us to another issue – affordability. Parab shared that the prices of the STBs were discouraging many to opt for digitisation. He also cited the lack of manpower in certain cases to have affected the pace.
100 percent digitisation?
Only a couple of days ago, the Madras High Court extended the deadline for cable TV digitisation to November 5 from October 31. Johnson D Kennedy, the president of the Chennai Metro Cable TV Operators’ Association, had filed a writ petition, based on which Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar passed the interim order. The issue was kept on hold till November 5 awaiting a reply from the Centre as well as to procure the required records. According to Kennedy, the deadline had been extended on two occasions since the regulation to implement the Digital Addressable System (DAS) had come into effect. He cited the unavailability of set top boxes (STBs) as the reason for Chennai missing the deadline — an issue that had been reported in the past too.
The ministry, in its recent statement, had revealed that it achieved 81 percent of cable TV digitisation across the four metros. Here it elaborated that the number is fairly high at 87 percent, considering the progress made by Direct To Home (DTH) services. Cable Operators Digitisation Committee convenor Swapan Chowdhury added that the estimated figure of 1.33 crore had been arrived upon based on feedback provided by the cable operators' body and stressed that the reduced figure was incorrect.