The Centre on Wednesday warned all cable and MSO operators to switch off analog signals in Phase III urban areas or face seizure of equipment.
In a statement issued here, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting asserted that the deadline for cable television digitization in India in the Phase III, which was to be completed by the end of 2015, will not be extended beyond January 31, 2017.
It urged all cable subscribers in Phase III urban areas to acquire set top boxes from MSO/Cable Operators in their areas immediately, failing which they would not be able to watch television through cable networks from February 1, 2017. The ministry also warned that it would seize the equipment of MSOs/Cable Operators under Section 11 of the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act if they continue to carry analog signal in Phase III urban areas.
It also asked chief secretaries of all states and union territories to enforce the powers and specified rules against defaulters. With an aim to make complete digitisation of cable television network in India, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has embarked on an ambitious programme for switch over of cable television network to a digital addressable system in India. The Government of India had passed the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Act in 2011 and made it mandatory for switch-over of the existing analog cable TV networks to digital addressable system (DAS).
A gazette notification was issued on November 11, 2011 that mandated digital switch over of all cable TV networks in the country in four phases. Digital switch-over has already taken place in Phase-I and II areas. The operations of cable television networks in India, the world’s third largest TV market with 16.1 crores TV households next to China and USA, are regulated through the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and the Cable Television Network Rules, 1994.
After successfully completion of Phase I and II in four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai by October 31, 2012 and 38 cities with a population more than one million by March 31, 2013 respectively, efforts are on to implement cable television digitization in Phase III and IV areas. All other urban areas under municipal corporations and municipalities in the country were to be covered In Phase III by December 31, 2015 and the rest of India by December 31, 2016.