The state of the Indian cable and satellite sector is significantly advanced despite India being an emerging economy. However, while the cable TV digitization mandate has made progress, monetization is slow, and coupled with large investments, the side effect of rising near-term financial leverage has become the primary concern.
The ministry of information and broadcasting has had to extend the cut-off date for Phase-III of cable TV digitization to January 31, 2017 and of Phase-IV to March 31, 2017. The decision had to be taken due to uncertainty in view of pending court cases and unsatisfactory progress of installation of set-top boxes in Phase-IV areas. Tamil Nadu continues to struggle with the process of digitization. The demonetization drive has slowed down the set-top box seeding activity considerably, and it is estimated that 10 million more set-top boxes have yet to be seeded in Phase-III itself. Interconnection agreements have to be signed by broadcasters and MSOs in so many cases.
While the TRAI is working to close on three important guidelines, on issues relating to tariff, interconnection and quality of service, thereby heralding a new, but common framework for all platforms, it is, for the time being, bound by the Madras High Court order, and will not be able to pass any guideline for issues such as broadcast tariff, broadcast interconnect, and quality of services.
Doordarshan has announced plans to expand its new digital terrestrial transmission service across the country. The broadcaster, which currently operates the service in 16 cities, is looking forward to expanding it to three new cities by March 2017 and 44 more in the next two years. The monolith, however, continues to face declining viewership. Even the small towns and villages are moving away. To save them from digging their own grave, the need for both the public broadcasters, Doordarshan and All India Radio to become corporate entities has never been more imminent.
We look forward to meeting our readers at our respective stands in BES Expo and Convergence India, both being held in the Capital in February 2017!