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DAS III completed in 18 states and UTs, nearing completion in 7 other: Rathore
NEW DELHI: Seeding of set-top boxes (STBs) in 18 states covered under digital addressable system (DAS) Phase III has been completed while it is nearing completion in another seven states, Minister of State in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore has said in the Lok Sabha.
As per data provided by the multi-system operators (MSOs), direct-to-home (DTH) and headend-in-the-sky (HITS) operators, DAS Phase III has been completed in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Punjab, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, and Andaman & Nicobar, Rathore said.
Digitisation in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli is nearing completion, he said, further stating that in other states and Union Territories it is yet to be fully achieved.
MIB Joint Secretary R Jaya had recently told the DAS Task Force members that the percentage achievement of DAS Phase III has increased to 90.44% as on 15 February 2016 from 76.45% as on 30 December 2015, as per MIS data.
Jaya had also stated that the STB seeding by MSOs has increased to 12.43 million for the period ended 15 February from 6.91 million for the period ended 30 December 2015. After various updates, DAS Phase III covers 33.18 million TV households across 29 states and five Union Territories.
DAS Phase III was to be completed by 31 December 2015. However, just a few days before the deadline, some MSOs, local cable operators (LCOs) and individuals filed cases in different state high courts requesting an extension of the cut-off date on the plea that there is a shortage of STBs.
The High Court of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, in the writ petition filed by the Federation of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh MSOs, extended the date of Phase III implementation by two months. This was further extended by four weeks recently.
Following the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh government orders, the Sikkim High Court had granted a 12-week extension in the writ petition filed by All Sikkim Cable Operators Association.
While hearing a case filed by Nasik Zilla Cable Operators, the Bombay High Court later stated in an order that there was no need for a stay order as the Andhra Pradesh High Court and Sikkim High Court had passed an order of status quo in view of the observations made by the Apex Court in the Kusum Ingots & Alloys Ltd vs the Union of India 2004 case. It further maintained that particularly in view of para 22 of the said order the question of grant of interim order does not arise in this case.
Subsequently, a number of other MSO associations and individuals filed petitions in various HCs, such as Orissa, Chandigarh, Allahabad, Indore, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Jaipur, Karnataka, Guwahati, Kolkata and Shimla.
These courts have either granted extension of two months, as was granted by the High Court of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, or dismissed the petitions with the directions not to disconnect the cable TV network operated by the petitioners and allowed them to operate in analogue system for 2–3 months.
The government is defending all the court cases and has filed a transfer petition in the Supreme Court. The SC had earlier dismissed the Indian Broadcasting Foundation’s (IBF) plea to set aside the Bombay High Court order on the application filed by Nasik Zilla Cable Operators stating that the order doesn’t give a stay on DAS Phase III implementation.
Rathore also informed that the MIB had constituted a Task Force that was meeting every month. Public awareness campaign was launched in print and electronic media. Since involvement of state governments was crucial for the implementation of digitisation, 13 orientation workshops for state- and district-level nodal officers were held at both central and regional levels.
Twelve regional units were established for coordination. Toll-free helpline was made operational. A management information system (MIS) was developed wherein MSOs, DTH and HITS operators were entering the details of area-wise seeding of STBs at least once a week. As many as 727 MSOs had been issued registration until 21 February. Regular monitoring of progress was made.