No extension of digitisation deadline

The government has decided not to extend the deadline for digitisation of cable television in the four metros, despite requests from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, as a huge surge in installation of set-top boxes in the last few days has ensured that almost 95 per cent of television viewing homes in the four cities would now be able to access digital signals.

The deadline for switching to digital set-top boxes ended Wednesday and according to government figures, almost 100 per cent households in Mumbai and 97 per cent in Delhi had switched over. In Kolkata, the figure is about 85 per cent while Chennai, where a court case has extended the deadline till Monday, about 62 per cent television have been converted to receiving digital signals.

Government sources said both West Bengal and Tamil Nadu had requested that the deadline be extended till December. The television sets which are not operated by set-top boxes in these four cities would go blank from Thursday. Sources conceded that some households would face black-out from Thursday but said within a transitory period of about a week or so every television viewing home would most probably get digitised.

The optimism of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, which has run a concerted campaign to bring about this change, stems from the fact that in the last few days, there has been a huge increase in the number of set-top boxes installed. In Delhi alone, approximately 65,000 set-top boxes were installed in one day on Tuesday, it claimed. A similar spurt has been noticed in other centres as well, it said.

Meanwhile, senior officers from Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have been requested to come to Delhi for a meeting to resolve the differences. Tamil Nadu officials are scheduled to meet Information and Broadcasting Secretary Uday Kumar Varma on Thursday while the date for a meeting with West Bengal officials is not yet decided.

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