21 Nov 2017
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DAS III STB seeding to pick up pace as deadline nears: MIB’s Jaya

MUMBAI: The seeding of set-top boxes (STBs) for digital addressable system (DAS) Phase III will pick pace as the deadline draws closer, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) joint secretary R Jaya told TelevisionPost.com.

The ministry has not yet provided any information about the status of STB seeding. It has created MIS software for collection of seeding status from multi-system operators (MSOs), direct-to-home (DTH) and headend-in-the-sky (HITS) operators.

“Our MIS software is ready. We have asked MSOs to fill in data in that MIS. Our information is that seeding is progressing, but it will pick up as the deadline nears,” Jaya said.

Jaya also said that the signing of interconnection agreements is progressing well. “Our information is that they are signing the contracts, but there are a few areas where negotiations are still on. It’s basically from broadcaster-to-broadcaster and MSO-to-MSO level so TRAI is dealing with the issue. Our indications are that things are progressing on the interconnection agreement front,” she added.

Ruling out any extension of the DAS deadline, Jaya said that the broadcasters and MSOs have been asked to be ready.

The ministry had called a meeting of MSOs last week before the DAS task force meeting, to take stock of the situation. The meeting was attended by 120 MSOs.

In response to the concerns of some stakeholders about the delay in the signing of interconnection agreements between broadcasters and some MSOs, it was decided that these MSOs furnish the details of pending cases to TRAI by 15 December for holding immediate meeting with broadcasters.

TRAI has called a meeting of 10 major MSOs on 15 November on this issue, a TRAI official said on condition of anonymity. Depending on the number of cases, the authority would call a meeting with broadcasters on 18 December to iron out issues, the official added.

The authority had earlier called a meeting of nine MSOs after receiving their complaints and took action in seven cases.

The ministry further emphasised that MSOs must carry public awareness campaigns on cable TV digitisation on their local channels and by distributing leaflets, holding meetings and putting kiosks, etc.

A demo of the MIS system, which has been deployed to collect seeding data of STBs online from all operators, was also made. MSOs that were yet to start feeding the data in the MIS were advised to start immediately and update it regularly.

MSOs were informed that broadcasters had been advised to ensure that after the cut-off date (31 December) signals might not be made available to unregistered MSOs and those who did not provide digitally encrypted signals in Phase III areas.

The ministry requested all the stakeholders to ensure that seeding of STBs is completed in all urban areas before the cut-off date and informed that engineers from AIR and DD are being deployed to inspect the technical set ups of the MSOs.

The ministry also reviewed the status of digitisation and the stock and supply of STBs. The stakeholders were requested to ensure that the seeding of STBs is completed in Phase III areas by 31 December so that consumers do not have to face any difficulty.

Broadcasters were advised to increase the frequency of publicity on cable TV digitisation and to ensure that all the approved TV channels carry it.

It was informed that the multilingual toll-free no. 1-800-180-4343 to answer queries of stakeholders, including consumers, for seamless transition to digitisation is already operational. They were also advised to publicise it.