Excited by the response it has received in the Phase I of digitisation, the Information & Broadcasting Ministry is now gearing up for the second phase that coves 38 cities in 15 states.
With the black out of analogue signals in Delhi and Mumbai on October 31, and Kolkata also agreeing to cease the analogue cable and switch over to the digital addressable systems (DAS), the Ministry has started reviewing the preparedness for Phase II cities, wherein the digitisation deadline expires on March 31, 2013.
Uday Kumar Varma, Secretary, Information and Broadcasting, headed a high level meeting today to check the status. It was reiterated in the meeting that the deadline would remain intact and that the preparation of Phase II should be done in right earnest to meet the notified deadline.
Ministry had issued a notification dated November 11, 2011 notifying Phase-wise digitisation of analogue cable television networks in India. As per the data provided by the Ministry, as on November 5, 22.4 lakh Set Top Boxes (STBs) have been installed in Mumbai, 25.15 lakh in Delhi, whereas in Kolkata 17.74 lakh STBs have been installed. The matter is sub-judice in the Madras High Court about Chennai. 29 lakh subscribers have DTH connections in the four metro cities.
Ministry’s teams have been making extensive field visits to the headends in Mumbai and Delhi to check for violations. Teams have also visited several homes to interact with people and to take a direct feedback about the running of analogue signals.
Ministry also said Tuesday that it has asked the multi system operators (MSOs) to make a thorough assessment of the number of STBs, taking into consideration credible data from the ground level. “MSOs have also been asked to provide information about the estimated number of STBs and their plans for procurement of STBs to ensure that the deadline of March 31, 2013 is met in these Phase II cities,” it said.
Meanwhile, Ministry has also started working on a communication campaign to target the specific needs of 38 cities of Phase II. It was emphasised that a meticulous planning of the Phase II cities is essential incorporating learnings from Phase I cities. Ministry has planned a one day workshop in the month of November to prepare an integrated plan of action for a smooth and flawless transition in Phase II cities.
Earlier, it had written to the chief secretaries of the Phase II states to nominate a Nodal Officer from each State as well as from each targeted city so that a close liaison and coordination could be made with the Nodal Officers to sort out local issues.
It has also been planned to put in place additional man power through Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd (BECIL) to make extensive field visits in the targeted cities of Phase II.