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MIB establishes 12 regional units to monitor DAS Phase III implementation

MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has established 12 regional units under ‘Mission Digitisation’ project, including a central unit in Delhi, to monitor the implementation of digital addressable system (DAS) Phase III areas, joint secretary R Jaya has told members of the DAS Task Force.

She also said that a toll-free helpline is expected to start operating soon. The 11th DAS Task Force meeting was held on 22 September.

MIB special secretary JS Mathur said that the ministry has held a number of regional workshops on cable TV digitisation with nodal officers nominated by the state governments and the registered multi-system operators (MSOs).

The workshops were held under the chairpersonship of joint secretary to sensitise the state nodal officers to their role and responsibilities in pre- and post-digitisation periods in Phase III areas.

He also informed that seven workshops have been held at Chandigarh, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Bhopal, Shillong and Hyderabad so far, with another workshop at Patna having been cancelled due to declaration of elections in Bihar.

Jaya added that, in the ongoing workshops, nodal officers are being advised to provide the right of way (RoW) to the MSOs/LCOs as per the provisions of the Cable Act and to intimate Phase III areas in their districts where no registered MSO is operating.

The nodal officers have been told to disseminate a clear message that the cut-off dates are final and the analogue cable viewers should change to digital before the cut-off date, she said.

On the issue of indigenous set-top boxes (STBs), Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association (CEAMA) representative mentioned that except for smaller orders for STBs from independent MSOs/LCOs, they are still awaiting orders from major MSOs.

GTPL representative Shaji Mathews requested CEAMA representative to send them an offer with price for various conditional access system (CAS) versions.

He also brought up the issue of sealing of the MSOs’ headends by the State Entertainment Tax Department in Pune. He mentioned that the state government had sealed the headends on the issue of entertainment tax, which is sub-judice.

Regarding publicity awareness campaign, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has created ads on cable TV digitisation in Phase III areas and its members have already started airing it on their channels.

The IBF representative stated that the ad has been planned in a bilingual format, but the foundation will consider making it multilingual as per requests of MSOs and LCOs.

The Task Force also suggested that the IBF distribute the ads through the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) as was done by the ministry in the past.

ASSOCHAM representative Pulak Bagchi informed that they have teamed up with a cable federation having an all-India presence for Chetna Yatra, which is planned to cover 450 cities sensitising the consumers and operators to the mandatory cable digitisation in Phase III areas by 31 December 2015. He added that a comprehensive report on this would be submitted to ministry.

At this point, Jaya mentioned that as a next step towards publicity awareness, broadcasters and MSOs should now inform the cable TV users in Phase III areas through scroll messages on their channels to get STBs installed in their homes before the cut-off date.

Mathur requested all broadcasters to enhance the frequency of telecast of spots informing the people about digitisation as the message needed to reach all levels.