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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Government in no mood to extend cable digitization deadline

NEW DELHI: As the deadline for digitization of cable services draws near, the government on Thursday ruled out any extension. Cracking the whip for delays in adhering to deadlines, the I&B ministry has revoked registration of two multi-system operators (MSOs).In a statement issued by the ministry, Home Cable Network and Swami Cable Network had been asked to furnish information regarding preparations for implementation of digital addressable systems and their plans for infrastructure expansion.

"In spite of the repeated written requests by the ministry, the information has not been furnished by both the MSOs...The non submission of data by these MSOs is indicative of their lack of seriousness to pursue their business as per the terms and conditions of their registration," the statement said.Taking a serious view of the non-compliance, the ministry revoked the registration of two MSOs. The deadline for implementation of the first phase including four metros — Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai—for digitization is November 1.

Speaking at a CII roundtable I&B secretary U K Varma said, "Given the fact that government is mandated by Parliament to ensure digitization in the time it is notified, there is no possibility of further extension. My appeal and request to all of you is to conclude negotiations quickly, seed the set top boxes....and ensure that on 1st November it is fully functional." Varma rejected the suggestion that digitization process in Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai was slow. "You can't say that it is very slow. If you judge from the space of seeding of Set Top Boxes (STBs) (it is about) 35 to 40%. I think most of the MSOs have assured us that they should be able to do the seeding in these metros," he said.The ministry has started the ambitious task of completing digital switchover of the existing analogue cable TV in the country in a phased and time-bound manner by December 31, 2014.