The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2011 has made it mandatory for switchover of the existing analogue Cable TV networks to Digital Addressable System (DAS) by December 2014, in the entire Country in four phases. In the first phase, four metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai are to be covered by 31st Oct 2012.
The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has been constantly coordinating with the stakeholders of the cable television industry, namely, broadcasters, Multi-System Operators (MSOs) and Local Cable Operators in its endeavour to ensure that the deadline of 31st October, 2012 is met and TV viewers in the 4 metro cities are in position to have the pleasure of experiencing digital broadcast without any interruption.
The Ministry has been constantly reviewing the preparedness of the industry for the digital switch-over. Installation of Set Top Boxes in cable TV homes is the most crucial precondition for digital switch over of cable television. Therefore, this has been under the prime focus of the Ministry. A review by the Ministry has revealed that in Mumbai city, 50% of cable TV homes have already been installed with STBs. In Mumbai, there is an estimated requirement of 34.85 lakh STBs and so far 17.07 lakh STBs have been installed. The MSO-wise installation of STBs in Mumbai is as under:
National level MSOs
Hathway – 6.16 lakh, Den – 1.40 lakh Digicable – 2.57 lakh
IMCL – 4.77 lakh WWIL – 0.50 lakh
Independent MSOs- 1.69 lakh
Some other initiatives of the Ministry towards digitization are as under:
(i) Fortnightly meetings of the Task Force with all the stakeholders are being held to take constant stock of the progress and to chalk out the measures to address emerging concerns. So far 14 meetings have taken place.
(ii) Meetings are being held with National level and independent Multi-Systems Operators every 15 days to assess their preparedness in terms of head-end capacities to carry minimum 200 TV channels to be extended to 500 channels from 1st January, 2012 and the progress of installation of Set Top Boxes in cable TV homes. They have also been advised to prepare micro plan for completion of the requisite task within the deadline and complete all the infrastructural preparations within time.
(iii) In order to enable the MSOs to online up-load the data on the website of the Ministry, the Ministry has put in place a software and the website has been enabled for the purpose of real time collection of data. The software will automatically generate analytical information based on the data uploaded, resulting in a clear view of the progress made. This will not only be useful for MSOs and other stakeholders but also for the Ministry, as it will infuse transparency in the system and enable timely corrective action taken
(iv) The completion of negotiation and the signing of interconnection agreements between the channel aggregators/ broadcasters and MSOs is one of the pre-requisites for implementation of digital switch-over. In order to facilitate mutually acceptable and workable negotiations in a transparent manner between the channel aggregators/ broadcasters and MSOs, the Ministry had requested them to have recourse to an open house sessions from 9th to 20th July 2012, from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm, in all the four metro cities so that conclusive agreements could be worked out by them on time.