Mamata threaten stir if digitisation deadline stays

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on October 30, 2012

Says high cost of set-top boxes a burden on the common man

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday threatened to launch an agitation if television transmission was blacked out after the October 31 deadline for digitisation.

She accused the Centre of trying to get into “direct confrontation” with the states on the issues of mandatory cable TV digitisation.

Mandatory cable TV digitisation to be carried out across four metros — Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai — involves the installation of a set-top box for each cable TV household.

“If necessary, we will launch a state-wide movement and later spread it to the whole of India,” Banerjee told reporters at Writers’ Buildings this afternoon.

Pointing out that set-top boxes have been in short supply, Banerjee maintained that it was the Centre’s prerogative to come up with an alternative to ensure that all cable TV services were not disrupted after the deadline.

“When the demand for set-top boxes has not been met, the Centre cannot black out television sets. Analogue and digital cable network must work together,” Banerjee said.

She further blamed the Centre for burdening the common man, as the cost of set-top boxes have been varying between Rs 1,200 and Rs 1,500.

No response

According to Banerjee, repeated attempts to resolve the issue with the Centre had borne no fruit. Letters on two different occasions were sent seeking a further extension of the deadline but she had not received a reply to her communication.

“We wrote twice to the Centre to resolve the issue but I am sorry to say that there was no response to these letters,” Banerjee said.

Digitisation Scenario

Market sources, meanwhile, point out that not more than 40 per cent households have adhered to the digitisation norms in the city.

According an official of the Kolkata-based Cable Operators’ Digitisation Committee, hardly 35 to 40 per cent of the estimated 35 lakh households in Kolkata have opted for digitisation.

Of the total cable TV users in the city, about 15 lakh households are reported to have installed set top boxes so far.

Further many preconditions for digitisation of cable TV have yet to be met by the various multi-system operators (MSO), broadcasters and the local cable operators.

Siti Cable, one of four the major MSOs that covers Kolkata and Bengal, has claimed that 70 per cent of its users have completed digitisation.

Experts feel about 10 to 15 per cent users will opt for digitisation only after the blackout.

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Published on October 30, 2012
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