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2 m TV sets may go blank as digitisation deadline ends

R. Ravikumar Meenakshi Verma Ambwani Chennai | Updated on March 12, 2018

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TN Government has sought extension of October 31 digitisation deadline till December 31, 2012. (file photo)

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With multi-system operators in the metros — barring Chennai — set to switch off analogue TV signals to comply with the Union Government order, close to two million households in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata will go without TV programmes from early Thursday, say industry sources.

The Madras High Court's stay on the digitisation deadline till Monday means analogue signals will continue to be beamed in Chennai till Monday.

According to a senior Ministry of Information and Broadcasting official, the switching off of signals in New Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai will go as per plan.

The Government got a shot-in-the-arm as the Bombay High Court today dismissed the plea for a stay on digitisation.

By government estimates, nearly 94 per cent of television households have been digitised across four metros. However, figures from local multi-system operators (MSOs) put the total digitisation in the 60-65 per cent range.

A spokesperson of an MSO with operations in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, said at least five lakh homes in Mumbai alone will go without TV entertainment from Thursday. In Kolkata and Delhi the number could be much more.

K. Jayaraman, Managing Director and CEO, Hathway Cable & Datacom, which has installed about 15 lakh set-top boxes in the three cities, said there was no shortage of boxes. Ravi Mansukhani, MD, Incablenet, which has deployed about one million boxes, said some of the low-income households are still shifting to set-top boxes. “We anticipate some households will face a blackout in these three cities.”

In Kolkata, according to sources, nearly 16 lakh households had installed set-top boxes till Wednesday. Four major MSOs control about 40 lakh cable TV connections. Operators said 10-15 per cent users would digitise their connections only after the blackout.

In Chennai, contrary to the I&B Ministry’s claim of 85 per cent digitisation, cable operators say hardly 65 per cent of TV homes in the city are digitised.

D. Vivekanandan, Managing Director, Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation Ltd, says the I&B Ministry’s statistics refer to the Chennai revenue district. “However, if we consider Greater Chennai, which is the CAS area, the number of analogue homes would be much more.”

Cable operators say there are close to four million TV homes in Chennai. Of these, only about nine lakh homes are digitised (seven lakh homes have DTH and the rest cable with set-top boxes). Arasu’s MD said the Government has sought extension of the deadline to December 31. The State Government-run cable TV operator has placed orders for one million boxes in the first phase. “The procurement process is on, and we expect the first consignment of boxes to arrive by the end of November,” he said.

(With inputs from Ayan Pramanik in Kolkata)



>ravikumar.ramanujam@thehindu.co.in

Published on October 31, 2012

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