Modification in India's Switchover Date to Digital Cable TVWednesday, June 20th, 2012
India’s Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2011 has made it mandatory for switchover of the existing analogue Cable TV networks to Digital Addressable System (DAS) by December 2014, in a phased manner. In respect of four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, the digital switchover is mandated to be completed by 30th June 2012.
The Task Force, comprising of all stakeholders, constituted by the Ministry in April, 2011, has been monitoring the progress made by various stakeholders towards digitisation. The task force has also undertaken field visits and interacted with local stakeholders. Discussions have been regularly held with Broadcasters, Multi System Operators (MSOs), Local Cable Operators (LCOs), while the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has been in regular contact with the concerned State Governments on this issue.
Regulations on Tariff & Interconnection were issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) only on 30th April 2012 instead of being issued in January, 2012, as expected. The Quality of Service Regulations and the Consumer Complaint Redressal Regulations were issued on 14th May, 2012 by TRAI. As per these Regulations, every Broadcaster and MSO was required to publish its Reference Interconnect Offers (RIOs) within 30 days of issue of the Regulation. Another 30 days are required for negotiations between Broadcasters and MSOs. Thereafter, the MSOs and LCOs arrive at agreements which enable the consumers to have a clear indication of the terms and conditions for installing Set Top Boxes and the prices of channels on an a-la-carte as well as on a bouquet basis.
The second order of TRAI of 14th May, 2012, has mandated that every MSO or its linked Cable Operator has to put in place a Consumer Complaint Redressal System consisting of a complaint centre with toll free consumer care number, web based complaint monitoring system as well as appoint or designate one or more nodal officers and publish consumer’s charter for DAS.
Both these orders of TRAI have not yet been substantially implemented. As a result of this, the installation of Set Top Boxes has not picked up necessary pace for the completion of the process of digitalisation by 30th June, 2012.
The assessment of these ground realities, compels the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to set a new deadline. It is, however, imperative that the modified target deadline is set with strict benchmarks to ensure that no complacency sets-in in the system and the new target date is achieved collectively by all the stakeholders.
Therefore, keeping in view public interest and after intensive and extensive consultations, as well as written commitments from all the stakeholders, for fully implementing the regulations of TRAI, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has decided to modify the 30th June deadline for a complete switch over to 31st October 2012 for all four Metro Cities i.e Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.
All the TRAI regulations for DAS will come into effect from 1st November, 2012.
The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting will closely monitor the process of digitalisation over the next four months. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting will issue warning letters to those going slow on their written commitments. Needless to add that both, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and TRAI, will take action under the provisions of the Cable Act, wherever and whenever necessary.