Kolkata seems to be far away from meeting the I&B Ministry’s fresh deadline of December 27 for digitisation of cable television homes.
Multi-system operators (MSOs) in the city recently urged the Centre to further extend the deadline until January 15 as set-top boxes have been installed in only 65 per cent of the households in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMA).
The five major MSOs cover around 35 lakh cable TV households in KMA.
According to Swapan Chowdhury, convenor of Kolkata-based Cable Operators’ Digitisation Committee, the nodal agency responsible for smooth roll-out of set-top boxes in the KMA area has failed to implement the Centre’s mandate strictly on many occasions, unlike in Delhi and Mumbai.
“There has been a conflict between the State Government and the Centre over digitisation of cable TV in Kolkata. While it is affecting all the cable operators under the MSOs, the entire digitisation process is getting delayed further,” he said.
MSOs have already stopped beaming 60-65 major channels including English news and sports channels in the city.
The 25-odd channels that are beamed in analogue mode include Bengali news, Bengali cinema and a few other free-to-air channels.
Suresh Sethia, director of SitiCable, one of the five major MSOs, said reducing the number of channels to 25 would help consumers to migrate fast to digital cable.
Digitisation has been done in 65-70 per cent households in the city overall, he added.
Experts add that cable operators will be able to install set-top boxes in 80 to 85 per cent of cable households by mid-January.