Broadcasters and multi-system operators (MSO) have welcomed the Delhi High Court order that quashes petitions related to the extension of digital addressable system (DAS) Phase III deadline, which ended on 31 December 2015. The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and the All India Digital Cable Federation (AIDCF), the industry body representing MSOs, have swung into action to ensure that analogue signals are switched off as per the date designated by the HC. The IBF has advised its members to inform all its affiliate MSOs and local cable operators (LCOs) about the said switchover deadline of 24 November 2016 in these areas, making it clear that after the deadline the channels can be received only through a digital set-top box (STB). The AIDCF has asked all its members to work with broadcasters to switch off analogue signals and implement digitization in DAS Phase III markets immediately. In a separate mail sent to the IBF, AIDCF has asked them to shut down analogue and broadcast digital signals only.

AIDCF president VD Wadhwa commented, “Delhi High Court has removed all hurdles from digitization of DAS Phase III areas and also cleared the passage for timely implementation of DAS Phase IV areas. AIDCF has been contesting in the Court and various other forums to implement digitization. We have already informed all member MSOs to speak to the broadcasters and immediately switch off analogue signals and implement digitization across the country. “On behalf of AIDCF, I would like to thank Justice Sachdeva for this important order to pave the way for digitization. I would request all concerned, including government bodies, to help pull out all stops to complete digitization, as it would benefit all and also help realise the ‘Digital India’ dream.” The order passed on 3 November by the single-member bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva paved the way for complete switch-off of analogue signals in DAS Phase III areas. The bench also directed the petitioners to switch over to DAS within three weeks by 24 November and to inform the subscribers by running a scroll on their networks about the digital switchover deadline. As reported first by, eight petitions were dismissed by the bench. The petitioners are from five states, namely Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh. The petitions of Victory Digital, Chowdeshwary Cable Network, Yogesh Cable Networks, Amma TV, Athulay Infomedia, Panchajanya Media, Sai Cable TV Network and Sunil Kumar Singh have been dismissed. Additionally, two petitions have been de-linked from the case while four petitions have been posted for consideration on 9 November. The stay orders passed by the HCs in various states at the beginning of the year had stalled the implementation of DAS Phase III. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) had got an order from the SC directing transfer of DAS Phase III cases to Delhi HC. The transfer of cases, however, took a lot of time. The order could not have come at a more opportune time as the entire country is slated to switch to digital with the deadline for the fourth and final phase coming to an end on 31 December. There is little information, though, on the progress of Phase IV, which largely covers the rural areas of the country. With the dismissal of these petitions, the stay granted by various HCs in areas covered by the above-mentioned cases stands vacated and will no longer apply. – IBF India