The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is gearing for the second phase of digitisation. Thirty-eight cities across 15 States will need to switch to set-top boxes by March 31. This phase will include television viewers in cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Kanpur, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Patna, Srinagar, Mysore, Coimbatore, and Ahmedabad.

A high-level committee, led by I&B Secretary Uday Kumar Varma, met on Tuesday to strategise for the second phase of digitisation. The Government has asked Multi-System Operators (MSOs) in these cities to provide information on the number of set-top boxes required and their plans to source them. The details have to be submitted in the next few days.

Officials said though the campaign through national television channels has already raised consumer awareness about digitisation, preparations are on for a communication drive to target these cities keeping in mind the various regional languages.

A senior official said that from the experience of first phase, the Government will focus more on field surveys. Additional technical staff from organisations such as the Broadcast Engineering Consultants India will be deployed to conduct extensive field surveys in these cities.

Executives from key national MSOs said they are trying to digitise their subscriber base. M.G. Azhar, COO, DEN Networks, said, “ Operators are confident about digitisation and are receiving pent-up demand from phase-II cities. We are present in 19 of these cities and expect to install 3.5-4 million boxes.”

While most national MSOs focused on digitising their current base in the first phase, they expect to garner incremental subscribers in the second.

The Ministry said it has written to the Chief Secretaries to nominate nodal officers in each State and specific city. It will be in touch with these officers to sort out local issues. It also plans to conduct a one-day workshop soon to prepare an integrated plan of action for a smooth transition.

Meenakshi.v@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 6, 2012)
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