MUMBAI: Even as the deadline for implementation of digital addressable system (DAS) in Phase III areas has crossed, analogue cable TV signals are still being run in pockets of Hyderabad.
Local cable TV operators (LCOs) want multi-system operators (MSOs) in Hyderabad to give them some more time. They have also blamed it on the shortage of supply of set-top boxes (STBs) on part of some MSOs.
In fact, LCOs linked to Hathway Cable & Datacom on Friday protested before the service provider’s office in Hyderabad, after the MSO switched off its analogue cable TV signals.
“We staged a dharna outside the Hathway office as they had switched off analogue feed. There is a shortage of supply of STBs. Analogue signals can be blacked out only after there is sufficient number of boxes. We do not want to inconvenience our customers. We also don’t want to lose our customers to DTH,” Telangana Cable TV Operators Welfare Association president Raju Goud told TelevisionPost.com.
Goud admitted that analogue cable TV service is running in some pockets of Hyderabad outside those serviced by Hathway.
“We want some more time before analogue feed is stopped. We need to deploy the STBs in customers’ homes,” he said.
The MIB had set the new cut-off date for Phase III of cable TV digitisation as 31 January 2017. The MIB had stated categorically that the deadline for Phase III of DAS, already delayed due to multiple court cases, would not stretch beyond 31 January 2017.
According to Goud, there is a minimum requirement of 500,000 STBs from all MSOs. “The Phase III market is big. We are also asking for bulk activation of boxes. The MSOs should understand our problems,” said Goud.
According to market estimates, Hyderabad’s total STB population would be around 2 million. Though there has been substantial deployment of boxes, there is still a requirement that needs to be met.
Senior executives of the MSO companies did not want to officially comment on the issue. An executive said that the MSOs need to stand united to enforce effective digitisation. There is also the problem that cable operators in Hyderabad take feed from multiple MSOs, he added.
According to Goud, MSOs in Hyderabad are selling at Rs 1,250 per STB to LCOs. “We are not against digitisation. By seeding digital boxes, we can save our subscriber base from being taken away by DTH. We have nothing against Hathway and the issue is sorted for now. All that we want from the MSOs is to give us adequate boxes and time to deploy them at our customers’ homes,” he said.