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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hours to TV blackout, cable confusion persists

Mumbaikars Rush To Meet Digital Deadline


    Prasannarajan Pohire, a resident of Kandivli, and his neighbours are running pillar to post to save their television sets from going blank from Wednesday. 
    Their analog signals will become a thing of the past from midnight of October 31 and only digital signals for cable TVs will be allowed to be pass through first the broadcasters, then multi-system operators (MSOs) and finally local cable operators (LCOs), who distribute signals to subscribers. 
    Cable operators' associations say around 30% homes in Mumbai have yet to get digital connections though the government claims it was 100% complete. Non-digitalised homes have nearly 30 lakh viewers whose small screens will go blank from midnight on Wednesday. Revenue department officials said of nearly 20.48 lakh households in the suburbs, 12 lakh have digital connections and around 3.5 lakh have direct-to-home (DTH) connections. In South Mumbai, around 75-80% of over 10 lakh homes have got digitalized. 
    "We admit there was a lack of awareness on our part, but operators should have popularized set-top-boxes (STBs)," said Pohire. "Thousands of homes across the city still rely on cable operators. Now with barely a day remaining for the STB regime, TV sets in our homes will stop working," laments Ajinkya Mohite and his neighbours in Bhandup. S Lad, a resident of Bhoir Nagar in Mulund, said a pricing war between cable and DTH operators left him confused and hence he could never decide which one to opt for. Several families in the Gavanpada area of Mulund said operators 
now cite shortage of STBs and lack of time as reasons for not installing them. 
    Worli resident Himanshu Saha said operators in his area always cite shortage of STBs. "Our area witnessed a war between DTH and cable operators," he added. Abhinandan Godse, a resident of Sion, said operators were quoting extremely high prices for STBs. 
    Anil Parab, president of the Cable Operators Association said the deadline should be extended by two months and 
claimed even cities like Kolkata and Chennai were demanding the same. "There could be anger on the streets as many viewers will not be able to watch television from Thursday. There is also no transparency in share and pricing for consumers and cable operators," warned Jagdish Joshi of Eastern Cable Operators' Welfare Association. 
    Ashok Mansukhani, president of the multi-system operators alliance, said MSOs had increased the supply of STBs to avoid a shortage. 

FOR A CLEARER PICTURE 
MUMBAI 
Cable households | 35 lakh* 
Total cable connections | 3 million* 
Analog cable connections | 
30% 
Digital accessible system | 
50% 
Direct to home | 
20% 
Local cable operators | 3,000* 
Multimedia service operators | 25* 
(*Approximate figures; Source: State revenue department) 

DIGITAL DEADLINE 
OCTOBER 31, 2012 
Delhi, Mumbai, 
Kolkata and Chennai 
MARCH 31, 2013 
Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Surat, Kanpur, Jaipur, Lucknow, Nagpur, Patna, Indore, Bhopal, Thane, Ludhiana, Agra, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nashik, Vadodara, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Rajkot, Meerut, Kalyan-Dombivli, Varanasi, Amritsar, Navi Mumbai, Aurangabad, Solapur, Allahabad, Jabalpur, Srinagar, Visakhapatnam, Ranchi, Howrah, Chandigarh, Coimbatore, Mysore and Jodhpur 
SEPTEMBER 30, 2014 
All other corporation, 
municipality areas 
DECEMBER 31, 2014 
Rest of India 

WHY THE SWITCH 
Cable operators won't be able to hide subscribers from distributors, so it will increase revenues and bring transparency. Customers will get more channels of choice, improved clarity and valueadded services 
LESS THAN 24 HOURS TO GO 
Today, October 31, is the deadline in the four metros—Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai—to switch from analog mode. Ask your cable provider to install a set-top box or get a DTH connection 
POST-NOV 1 SCENARIO 
    If digitisation remains incomplete and government refuses to extend the deadline, TVs of many viewers may 'blackout' in the city 
    Collector's offices in island city and suburbs will monitor disconnection of analog connections

Maharashtra and Mumbai have 13% of cable TV viewers in the country, the third-largest after Andhra Pradesh & Tamil Nadu

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