Cable digitization achieves 55% target in Phase II cities

Telecom Lead India: The Information & Broadcasting Ministry on Friday said Cable digitization has achieved 55 percent target in 38 cities in Phase II.

The ministry’s target is to achieve 100 percent digitization by March 31, 2013.

As per the data received from the DTH operators and the MSOs, as on 22 February, 2013, 87.7 lakhs Set Top Boxes (STBs) have already been installed in Phase-II cities against the target of 1.60 crore, registering an achievement of 55 percent digitisation.

Out of a total of 87.7 Lakhs, DTH connections accounted for 40.7 Lakhs, whereas cable STBs accounted for 47.0 Lakhs.

On Thursday’s Union Budget 2013-14, India’s Finance Minister P Chidambaram announced that there will be increase in duty of STBs from 5 percent to 10 percent.

The DTH industry has opposed the move. Harit Nagpal, president of the DTH Operators Association of India and MD & CEO, Tata Sky, said that the DTH industry is already paying 32 percent of its revenue as taxes.

“At a time like this, when  the government’s digitization mandate is entering its 2nd  phase, the industry requirement is many times normal and there is no local manufacturer of repute who can deliver quality boxes in such quantities. Therefore, this increase seems out of place and in all fairness should be reversed,” Nagpal added.

To monitor the progress of cable digitization, the ministry — headed by Manish Tewari — has set up a Task Force exclusively for Phase-II cities.

The Ministry had set up a Control Room during Phase I, which has continued to function to address the queries of consumers, cable operators and others. The Control Room which also has a toll free number has been receiving a number of calls from consumers of Phase-II cities.

In order to facilitate cable TV digitisation in 38 cities of Phase-II, the Ministry has already issued provisional registration to 30 Independent MSOs to operate in Phase II cities. This would enable these MSOs to operate in their respective cities to provide digital cable TV services.

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