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MIB notifies new DAS deadline, Phase 3 and 4 extended

MUMBAI: A day after reconstituting a task force for the implementation of digital addressable system (DAS) in Phases III and IV, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has notified the new DAS deadline.

As per the new deadline, the third phase has been pushed to December 2015 from 30 September 2014 while the fourth has been pushed to December 2016 from December 2014.

The deadlines have been extended to provide more time for domestic manufacturing of set-top boxes (STBs) and registration of multi-system operators (MSOs). Phase III of DAS will cover all urban areas that were not covered under Phase II while Phase IV will cover rural areas.

Earlier, I&B secretary Bimal Julka had told TelevisionPost.com that the digitisation deadline has been deferred by a year to December 2015 as a lot of groundwork needs to be done and various issues need to be resolved. The deadline for Phase IV would be extended to December 2016.

The new deadline came despite resistance from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman Rahul Khullar who had stated that any move to extend the DAS deadline will lead to a loss of momentum and make it difficult to ensure compliance.

Khullar had also contended that the MIB’s emphasis on promoting indigenous STBs for Phases III and IV of DAS is a mere pipe dream and is difficult to achieve. A delay would also impact foreign investments, he added.

On Tuesday the MIB had reconstituted the DAS Task Force with enhanced representation of independent MSOs and last-mile operators. Unlike the previous task force where independent MSOs and LCOs had only one representative each, the new body will have five representatives each from independent MSOs and LCOs.

Last week, Julka had held a meeting with domestic STB manufacturers to review their readiness to meet the demand of 11 crore (110 million) STBs for Phases III and IV of cable TV digitisation.

At the meeting, the manufacturers assured Julka of their sufficient installed capacity to meet the full demand of STBs locally.

Incidentally, this is the first major step taken by the new I&B minister Prakash Javadekar. In his early days as minister, he had tweeted: “Government to lay thrust on indigenous manufacture of set-top boxes. Digitisation deadlines may be relaxed if necessary.”

ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) president K Jayaraman had earlier said that the government’s decision to extend the DAS III and IV deadlines will benefit direct-to-home (DTH) players as they have started giving local packages. With STB price coming down, DTH’s subscriber acquisition cost has also come down.

Also read:

Government to notify new DAS deadline soon
Digitisation extended by a year; industry settles to resolve issues