MIB asks officers to act against cable networks carrying analogue signals in Phase III

MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has written to authorised officers in states and union territories to initiate action against multi-system operators (MSOs) and local cable operators (LCOs) who are found carrying analogue signals in digital addressable system (DAS) Phase III areas.

The switch-off date for DAS Phase III areas ended on 31 January. The ministry, in its advisory to all authorised officers, has asked them to ensure that analogue signals in Phase III areas are not transmitted from 1 February.

The MIB has asked the authorised personnel to initiate action against erring MSOs/LCOs under Sec. 11 of the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act.

Carrying analogue signals after the cut-off date is a violation of Section 44 of the Cable TV Act.

In an earlier notice, the MIB while extending the Phase III deadline to 31 January had asked the chief secretaries of all states/UTs to ensure that the authorised officers get acquainted with their powers and enforce them against defaulters MSOs/LCOs if they continue to carry analogue signals in Phase III urban areas after the deadline.

As per Section 44 of the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act 1995, it is obligatory for every cable operator to transmit or re-transmit programmes of any channel in an encrypted form through a digital addressable system with effect from the date as may be specified/notified by the ministry from time to time.

The reports from many major MSOs, having switched to digital signals, have been very encouraging. However, information from many MSOs is yet to reach the ministry.

In the task force meeting on 20 January, MIB advisor (DAS) Yogendra Pal had informed that as per the data entered by the registered operators in the MIS, digitisation in Phase III areas had been completed nearly 100%. Regarding court cases, Pal had stated that, except for three cases, all the cases had been disposed of by Delhi High Court.

The MIB had also directed broadcasters to ensure that they don’t have any analogue agreements with any MSO for Phase Ill areas. In case they had any existing analogue agreements with any MSO for Phase Ill area, they had to inform the MSO concerned that the existing agreement would be invalid after 31 January.

Broadcasters were also directed to carry out monitoring at the ground level to ensure that no MSOs with whom they have interconnection agreements are supplying analogue signals in Phase III areas after 31 January.