As the March 31 digitisation deadline for the second Phase crawls closer, cable operators across the national capital are geared up to protest against the haphazard digitisation drive. A 48-hour ‘blackout’ would be observed by the cable operators in Delhi against the unfair revenue sharing model under the digital addressable system (DAS) and government forcing them to extract increased payments from reluctant consumers.
According to a section of cable operators, they have blacked out all televisions starting 9 pm on 29 March which will last till March 31. The operators are demanding extension of the deadline, a higher revenue share and lower tariffs for consumers.
Vineet Kumar, general secretary of West Delhi Cable Operators Association said, ‘the government should take into account that 75 percent of the population in the country is still on the analog systems. The government has taken away the rights of thousands to favour a few MSOs.
Kumar alleged that government decision of digitalisation of cable signals was taken without considering the concerns of local cable operators (LCOs). "It will put extra pressure both on the public and LCOs, as all the investment made on the distribution networks of last mile for analog cable signals will become redundant," he added.
President of Trans-Yamuna Cable TV Operators Association, Ashok Pandit said, ‘We are not against digitisation. We fully support the decision. Our protest is against the packages being offered by the multi-system operator (MSO). They are offering us just a 33 percent share, which is unfair and unacceptable,"
Pandit, who represents cable operators from East Delhi areas, said local cable operators were not taken into confidence when the decision to go digital was taken. "The MSOs took few hand-picked local operators to the government to claim they had taken all of us into confidence, following which this decision was made," he added.
Consumers paying just Rs.100 to Rs.150 under the analogue system would now have to pay three or four times more than that in addition to buying a digital set-top box, Pandit added.