With exact 18 days left for the digitisation deadline, cable operators in Kolkata are trying to tackle various challenges with the government. Issues such as shortage of set top boxes, no clarity on channels rates and concerns over law and order situation are giving everyone sleepless nights.
Ideal Cable Operators Association of Kolkata (ICOA) has written a letter to the Information & Broadcasting ministry and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, requesting to postpone the deadline. The letter contains a request for clarifying the channels rate in detail, which will help the cable operators install connections.
Talking to exchange4media, Aloke Kumar Sharma, Secretary, ICOA said, “The situation in Kolkata is very similar to all the other metros in terms of meeting digitisation deadline.”
Kolkata roughly needs 40 lakh STBs; out of which almost 12 lakh has been installed. It is understood more than 1.5 lakh STBs need to be installed every day to meet the deadline.
LCOs are doing their bit and taking initiatives to handle the situation. A letter has been sent to I&B ministry and TRAI but no reply has been received yet.
Law and order problem is another issue that is bothering the cable operators, which led them to approach the state government, commissioner of police and deputy magistrate to look into the matter.
ICOA, President, Samar Majumder said, “We are happy with the digitisation move as it will benefit customers. But practically thinking, it is not possible in such a short period.”
On the other hand, Kanak Singh Rana, Director of Gujarat Television Private limited (GTPL), a MSO operating in Kolkata said, “We had ordered STBs the moment government had announced implementation of Digital Addressable System (DAS). We are unable to deliver the boxes before deadline as we will be getting the STBs in August this year. It’s a difficult task to fulfill the demand of our four lakh consumers.”
Rana is of the opinion that the government should form a committee that will address the challenges faced by MSOs and discuss availability of set top boxes. This activity will help to decide a new deadline for digitisation.
However, Gurmeet Singh, Owner of Manthan Broadband Services, a MSO operating in Kolkata, has a different view. He said, “I am sure digitisation will take place July 1. The mandate and demand from consumers will implement digitisation deadline.”
State government not responsible
As per media reports, West Bengal Urban Development minister, Firhad Hakim has been quoted as saying that Trinamul Congress government had not been consulted by TRAI or other agencies regarding the digitisation process in Kolkata. TMC would not be responsible for any earlier discussions that TRAI might have had with the erstwhile CPM government regarding digitisation.