Akhilesh Tripathi , Associate , India Cast Media Distribution Pvt. Ltd.

"Governments initiative toward digitization deserves admiration. But the question arises whether preparations were fully ensured before digitization implementation. "

The much-awaited and last stop of digitization is in the fourth phase. Meeting the expectation of broadcasters, multi-system operators (MSOs), local cable operators (LCOs), authorized officials, and the general public, a final date has been estimated.

Pay channels operating on analog signals will be totally switched off after March 31, 2017. After the announcement for the last phase of digitization, the period of so-called movements began. This was similar to that seen in the phase-IV digitization.

Government's initiative toward digitization deserves admiration. But the question arises whether preparations were fully ensured before digitization implementation; probably not, because government machinery takes more than six months to provide a license for digital transmission. Set-top box (STB) manufacturing work is slow but demands on ground are very high. Requirements and consumption gap is also very wide.

The date for digitization has been extended on the petitions and requests of broadcasters, multisystem operators (MSOs), local cable operators (LCOs), and authorized officials. Time is too short and there are not enough resources. Operators and broadcasters need to reflect on the practicality of implementation. Deadlines are too near to be met and STBs are not available at many places; such reasons cause dissatisfaction and trouble among people relying on cable operators. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) should keep proper supervision and control of the status at the grassroots level to reduce despotism of broadcasting industry and cable operators. Even after being faced with many problems working toward a better tomorrow is the way forward, which will set new dimensions in the entertainment world. Compared to analog cable TV services, there are many advantages of digital cable TV services, which can lead to large number of TV channels being aired with better picture quality and sound for all channels. Consumers can choose channels of their choice.

Though digitization has been implemented late, but now its implementation should be better. TRAI has taken many steps to create awareness amongst consumers and stakeholders through workshops and other platforms. How effective this will be at the grassroots, only time will tell. All the areas missed in digitization phase III are included in digitization phase IV, while the execution of digitization phase III has not been fully implemented on the ground. There is still a lot of suspicion in the minds of consumers and cable operators, the main reason is that consumers are not adequately updated and aware. Simultaneously, instructions have been given to broadcasters, DTH operators, MSOs, and LCOs to conduct consumer awareness programs regarding digitization of cable TV services. Upon reaching the ground, the instruction format is arbitrarily changed into that of cable operators and other service providers, and the consumer does not have any other option except to stick to their cable operators and other service providers. An undisclosed, undeclared competition has begun in the entertainment world. From broadcast companies to local cable operators, all joined this kind of competition where the operation is arbitrary. Broadcast companies are arbitrarily conducting deals for channels and all this is happening because the government has no control over broadcasting companies. Even at the time of contract renewal, hike taken by broadcast companies from operators is very much. On the other hand, the operator is charging an arbitrary price for the setup box from the customer because the setup box is not available in the open market. There is also not any direct or indirect intervention of TRAI or any other government or non-government organization. Consumer's compulsion is clearly visible. -la-carte is a term that will take a long time to be realized. However, change is the rule of the world and it is also necessary, and now many changes are happening in the field of entertainment. These changes are being seen by all people, and are being liked. This change in the entertainment world will bring a better tomorrow. This time it can be said that dilli abhi door hai.