The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) has finally passed the much awaited ordianance for mandatory digitisation of television services for all urban areas by 2014.
As per the instructions from Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), this process would be undertaken in four phases.
In a media briefing right after the cabinet meeting, Ambika Soni, information and broadcasting minister said that cable operators will have to abandon analog in the four metros by 31 March 2012. Cities with a population of one million will be covered by 31 March 2013. All urban areas would be covered by 30 September 2014. The entire country will be covered by 31 December 2014.
Analysts as well as the players connected to various segments of the broadcasting industry have reacted positively to the news.
Smita Jha, consulting head, media and entertainment, PricewaterhouseCoopers said, "Cabinet clearance is a step in the right direction, a decision long awaited by the industry. Once the formal approval is received, the industry will await the detailed implementation plan. The Government's decision to set up a task force with representatives from both industry bodies and various arms of the Government to monitor the implementation will, hopefully, ensure that the sunset dates as prescribed are met. It's a win-win situation for all the value chain players in the television industry."
Harit Nagpal, chief executive officer, Tata Sky, said, “This development from the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) is very encouraging to us as DTH service providers. Digitisation of Indian TV services will aid the organisation of the Industry and result in clearer subscription figures for broadcasters. We would like to see digitisation within the said time frame and feel that the acceptance of TRAI’s recommendations on short-term taxation relief for DTH operators would immensely boost this process.”
Tarun Katial, chief executive officer, Reliance Broadcast Network ltd, said, "The carriage costs paid by broadcasters which currently remain high in view of the limited bandwidth of analog cable would decrease post digitisation.This would allow broadcasters, to make higher investments in programming and marketing thus improving the customer experience."