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DAS Phase III: 685 areas report zero STB seeding
MUMBAI: Even as the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) claimed that 86.25 per cent of TV households have been digitised in digital addressable system (DAS) Phase III excluding Tamil Nadu, its own report reveals 685 areas with zero seeding until 30 December 2015.
Of these, 280 areas are in West Bengal, which are to be deleted from Phase III list as per the comments of the state government.
Out of 685 areas, 450 areas have fewer than 1,000 TV households and 226 from 1,000 to 5,000 TV households.
This information was provided by special secretary JS Mathur during the 13th meeting of the task force on the implementation of DAS Phases III & IV, which was held on 30 December under the chairpersonship of the I&B secretary Sunil Arora.
As per Mathur’s presentation on the status of digitisation in Phase III areas, the number of urban areas to be digitised in Phase III after updating of 27 states and Union Territories stands at 6016.
Mathur told the stakeholders that 76 per cent digitisation has been achieved in Phase III areas as per the management information system (MIS) software. The percentage shoots up to 86.25 per cent if Tamil Nadu is excluded.
He also stated that only 190 multi-system operators (MSOs) are entering seeding data in the MIS out of the 510 registered for Phase III areas.
Almost 135 MSOs have still not logged into the system, while 185 MSOs have logged but have not reported any seeding.
Regarding MSO registration, it was mentioned that the ministry has granted 567 registrations so far. Ninety applications are under process and 35 applications are pending clarifications. Affidavits are awaited from 170 applicants. About 100 applications were received in November and December 2015.
The toll-free facility, which has been operational for the last two months, has received 500 calls on average every day in the last 10 days.
About 400 officers from AIR and Doordarshan have been nominated to inspect the headends of MSOs and inspection reports have already been received from 50 officers, Mathur said.
The joint secretary also stated that requests had been received from the governments of Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, as well as some MSOs, to extend the cut-off date for Phase III of digitisation.
Besides, four million STBs were catered to by DD Freedish and another eight million by digital cable. The seeding data for each notified Phase III urban area would be sent shortly.
Mathur added that the data for two million STBs to be activated after the cut-off date should be included only after report of their activation is finally received. The seeding data received from DTH operators is based on postal codes.
Ortel Communications representative Bibhu Rath mentioned that due to component shortage with STB manufacturers, the delivery of STBs ordered by them has been affected despite advance payment made by them. They have seeded 30 per cent STBs so far and have a stock of about 20 per cent.
However, the chairperson stated that the notification for the cut-off date for Phase III was issued on 11 September 2014, which was more than a year ago.
Further, several awareness campaigns, task force and MSO sub-group meetings and orientation workshops for the state and district nodal officers were held during this period.
In addition, state government officials including chief secretaries have been sensitised from time to time on the importance of the initiative. Hence, there was no case whatsoever to consider any extension of the cut-off date, he said.
Representative of IBF Vishal Kaushik mentioned that about 700 MSOs have single headends for Phase III and IV areas and that these MSOs have not made any mechanism so far for taking dual feeds for feeding Phase III and IV areas.
He further mentioned that they have communicated to all MSOs that TV signals to them will be switched off if they are not registered and if they carry analogue signals in Phase III areas after the cut-off date.
I&B joint secretary R Jaya mentioned that an advisory was issued to all registered MSOs informing them that in case they have a single control room for Phase III and IV areas, they must take separate IRDs from broadcasters for taking digital signals in Phase III areas and analogue signals in Phase IV areas. They should ensure that only digital signals are transmitted in Phase III areas after the cut-off date.
She also stated that no agreements with MSOs of broadcasters in the analogue mode should be operational after the cut-off date.
The representative of the government of Maharashtra R Vimla mentioned that difficulties have been reported from the field in implementing digitisation in the state within the timelines and asked for extension of the cut-off date.
However, the chairperson reiterated that the timelines have to be adhered to by all the stakeholders as the same were announced more than one year ago.
Consumer organisation Savera’s Vinod Ashish mentioned that consumers are facing difficulties in the redressal of their complaints from the MSOs/LCOs and suggested to add the Ministry of Consumer Affairs for redressal of such complaints.
He also suggested that the ministry must hold workshops on cable TV digitisation in all districts for awareness of the consumers.
He was told that 11 workshops were held by the ministry for the implementation of Phase III and similar workshops have been planned to be held in Phase IV also. Besides, advertisements on separate dates were issued in newspapers pan-India and both news and general entertainment channels had been carrying ads and scrolls for information of all.
The representative of Maharashtra Cable Operators Federation (MCOF) mentioned that about 60 per cent areas in Maharashtra are not served by the national MSOs. He further mentioned that about 1 million STBs were to be seeded, which was not possible in two days. He added that 40 registrations were pending with the ministry.
To this, Jaya mentioned that the ministry had fixed 21 December 2014 and then 6 February 2015 as cut-off date for applying for registration for Phase III areas. In July 2015, the MHA decided that no security clearance was deemed for issue of registration to MSOs. Since this would involve amendment in the rules, until that time, provisional registrations would be issued by the ministry, she added.
She further mentioned that applications are still being received and, in some cases, the registrations are pending for want of documents. She also mentioned that as informed in the presentation made at the meeting, the MSO-dark areas in the country for Phase III were minimal.
In fact, the data on urban areas received recently from the government of West Bengal was being examined, which would further bring down this number by about 280. It was decided that deletions in areas, as per comments of the state governments, might be made but no additions to be made in Phase III at this stage, as MSOs do not have time now for the same.
TRAI representative SK Singhal mentioned that it was made clear in all meetings that analogue signals cannot be transmitted in Phase III areas after 31 December 2015.
MSOs and broadcasters were as such required to arrange in advance for feeding Phase III and Phase IV areas. He added that, as per the interconnection regulations, analogue transmission is permitted in Phase IV areas and that the MSOs and broadcasters should find a technological solution to the problem of segregating the feeds from the same control room.
IBF representative apprehended that there might be piracy problem in Phase III areas. He was told to take action as per the law against those indulging in piracy.
He was told that the ministry would write to all state/UT governments to take action against those violating the law. The joint secretary remarked that broadcasters have to cancel the agreements entered by them for analogue signals in Phase III areas.
Concluding the meeting, the special secretary mentioned that broadcasters have to ensure that no analogue signals are transmitted in Phase III areas without affecting Phase IV areas.
He further mentioned that, as decided in the meeting, DTH operators must update the seeding data in the MIS based on data furnished in the meeting and agreed to by all stakeholders.