Fri, 02 Nov 2012 12:30:00 GMT | By IANS

Need time to go digital: Kolkata cable operators

The central government should have allotted more time for digitalization of cable TV networks instead of thrusting a deadline, says cable operators in Kolkata.


Need time to go digital: Kolkata cable operators (© Reuters)

The deadline for digitalization of analogue cable TV in the three metros of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata ended Wednesday midnight.

"More time would have created more awareness among consumers. They are yet to decide on the switchover," said Swapan Chowdhury, convener of the Cable Operators Digitalization Committee of the Association of Cable Operators in the city.

According to Chowdhury, out of the 40 lakh cable subscribers only 14 lakh could go digital due to a shortage of set-top boxes.

“Of the subscribers who have already applied, many are yet to receive the set-top boxes. There is a huge deficit of boxes. It will take a long time before all of them get the new device," said Sumit Ray of Galaxy Communications.

Besides the set-top box shortage, the move for the switchover has brought to the fore other problems faced by both consumers and operators.

"A set-top box will cost Rs.800-1,100. How can a low-income group consumer afford one right away," Ray said.

"We have been providing analogue cable services for the last 14-15 years, thus we could fix technical problems easily. With this sudden move, we have no time to get ourselves equipped with the required knowledge for digital services," he added.

Besides troubleshooting technical snags, generating bills will also pose a problem for the operators.

"Without a proper system in place, how will the consumers pay their bills. We are still not clear as to how we will generate the bills," Chowdhury said.

As of now, the cable operators are running both analogue and digital services in pursuance of a request by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

"We have decided not to stop the analogue services immediately as requested by Mamata didi (elder sister - as Banerjee is called). It will take a minimum of six months before all the subscribers can go digital. It will be a gradual process," Chowdhury added.

The central government has made digitalization mandatory for the cable television broadcast service from October 31 in four metropolitan cities - Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi and Kolkata.

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