Delivering the keynote at the CASBAA India Forum 2013 in Delhi on 7 March, Uday Kumar Varma, secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), Government of India, said that phase 1 of digitising television distribution had been a success, and expressed confidence that the 31 March deadline for phase 2 would be met.
Varma stated, “We claim with satisfaction that phase I has been successful and I felicitate all stakeholders, broadcasters, TRAI, consumers and colleagues for this. We feel the subscription data and revenue will soon start flowing. Our publicity campaign has been rolled out and we are confident that we will comfortably complete the targets of phase 2.”
“In order to achieve successful digitisation there has to be an availability of quality set top boxes. Secondly, industry must get over the idea of short term benefits and think of long term gains of digitisation. We need to understand dividends of digitisation take time to manifest,” he added.
Sameer Manchanda, chairman and MD, DEN Networks, said, “Digitisation has happened all over the world, the only issue is that India was more complex than any other place. The response in phase 1 has pleasantly surprised us. According to me it has definitely been a success.”
Man Jit Singh, CEO, MSM (Sony India); and president IBF, concurred. He said, “From a broadcaster’s prospective, phase 1 has been a success. Digitisation in India happened when everybody thought it was impossible.”
Ravi Mansukhani, MD of MSO IMCL, pointed to the impact of customs duty increase on digitisation. He said, “We didn’t understand the doubling of custom duty. On the one hand we are giving subsidies so that consumers can convert to digital, and on the other we are facing rise in duty which will not let our plans of going into new regions be fulfilled.”
Speaking on the phase three of FM radio, Varma mentioned that the cabinet has given clearance to setting up of 839 FM radio channels across 294 cities. He said “There were some issues but now the EGoM has cleared the way and is set to launch all processes in 2013-‘14. This development is going to bring unprecedented change in the broadcasting sector in India.”