In a far-reaching move that is set to revolutionise the TV broadcasting industry, the Union cabinet has given the go-ahead to an ordinance that will put on the fast track the ongoing digitisation of TV broadcasts.
This will cheer up broadcasters who will increase their subscription revenues and also end the regime of hefty carriage fees they pay to cable TV operators in the Rs 20,000 crore industry. This will substantially bring down the cost of operations of running channels. At present, carriage and placement fees corner nearly 20% of the total cost of running a channel.
It would be a win-win situation for consumers too who will be able to select channels of their choice. The digital broadcasts will have sharper pictures, better sound quality and a bigger number of channels. The broadcasters will be able to route their content directly through satellites to the consumer homes with the help of set top boxes.
Presently, cable operators who use the analog platform charge a flat rate for all customers for a single package of less than 90 channels, a far cry from digital cables that can carry up to 1,000 channels.
Digitisation will bring in clearer subscription figures for broadcasters, a grey area now.
The ordinance, after being approved by the President, will result in the complete digitization of the cable and satellite television industry in the country by 31 December, 2014.
The digitisation deadline for the four Metros is March 31, 2012 while for cities with more than 10 lakh population, the cut-off date is March 31.