With just few days left for the March 31 deadline of digitization phase II according to Information and Broadcasting Ministry 5.9 million analogue TV homes are yet to be installed with set-top-boxes (STBs) in 38 cities.
The level of digitisation in the cities, as of March 20, has reached 65.05 percent, as per the ministry sources. Out of this, 26.24 percent homes are covered by direct-to-home (DTH) alone. As per the data available, out of 16.01 million TV homes, a total of 6.21 million homes have received cable STBs, while 4.2 million have been installed with DTH boxes. The ministry has made a provision of 20 percent for multiple TVs in houses in the 38 cities and TVs in offices/shops. The total number of TV Households according to Ministry statistics is 13.34 million.
In cities like Ludhiana (173.68 percent), Hyderabad (127.79 percent) and Chandigarh (106.53 percent), the deployment of STBs has exceeded 100 percent, while in Visakhapatnam it is less than 7 percent. Ramesh Jha, owner of a LCO said, ‘“There is lot of reluctance from the consumers’ end. They want to wait to see if actually the signals go black on deadline. We don’t have enough boxes also. If the deadline of March 31 is enforced, there will be chaos.”
Meanwhile, the ministry has also set up a Centralised Monitoring System to monitor the progress of digitisation and to ensure the mandatory adherence of transmitting digital encrypted signals by multi-system operators (MSOs).This CMS will be able to detect those MSOs who do not carry the mandated encrypted signals. As per mandated by Section 4A of Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, MSOs are required to carry encrypted signals of TV channels in areas where digitisation has been implemented. Transmission / Re-transmission of unencrypted signals would amount to violation of terms and conditions of MSOs.