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I&B ministry asks states to take action against cable operators using analog signals

LiveMint logoLiveMint 27-04-2017 Harveen Ahluwalia

New Delhi: The information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry on Thursday asked all the states to take action against multi-system operators (MSOs) and cable operators who continue to use analog signals instead of digital, in a bid to successfully implement cable digitization across the country.

According to a notice uploaded on the website of the ministry, the authorized officers in various states have been asked to conduct regular inspections and also seize the equipment used to operate cable television networks if cable operators violate the provisions of the cable Act.

“For the successful implementation of cable TV digitization, it is imperative that immediate action is taken against the defaulters and also regular monitoring/checks are made to ensure that the cable operators follow all the provisions in the Cable Act/Rules for providing cable TV services,” the ministry said in the notice.

MSOs run large cable distribution networks. Currently, there are 700 MSOs and 60,000 cable operators in India.

The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2011 had mandated a switch-over of the existing analogue cable TV networks to digital addressable system (DAS) in four phases. Digital switch-over has already taken place in phase I, II and III areas and was scheduled to be completed in phase IV areas by 31 March 2017.

Also, no MSO can provide cable television network services with digital addressable systems (DAS) without a valid registration from the I&B ministry, according to the Act and the rules framed thereunder. “Registered MSOs must operationalize the cable service within six months of getting the registration failing which their registration is likely to be withdrawn/suspended,” the ministry added.

Recently, the ministry had also requested the department of space (DoS) to block the signals of an unauthorized direct-to-home service called Asia Broadcast Satellite (ABS) Ltd which has been providing free-to-air (FTA) channels in India without permission from the ministry. ABS Ltd is a global satellite operator headquartered in Bermuda.

For the year 2017-18, the government has earmarked Rs4,409 crore for the I&B ministry, 5.96% more than what was allocated last year. The annual budget of the ministry was Rs4,161 crore for 2016-17, according to the revised estimates.

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