In order to meet the June 30, 2012 deadline for digitalisation in the four metros, major service providers have already placed orders for about 8.79 million set top boxes (STBs) out of the total projected need of 10 million boxes for the first phase, an information and broadcasting ministry release said.
With concerns being raised as to whether the deadline would be adhered to due to unavailability of STBs, the I&B ministry is undertaking a series of reviews to assess the progress.
"The above figures indicates that major service providers have taken cognizance of the notification issued by the ministry of information & broadcasting regarding the sunset date of conversion from analogue to digital services in the four metro cities," the ministry said.
"This would also dispel reports that adequate preparations were not in place that would lead to blackout of services. It also shows that the industry does not expect any postponement of the notified date as adequate preparations and plans are underway for implementation,” the release added.
From July 1, 2012, every cable operator in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai will have to provide signals in the digitally addressable mode.
Digitalisation or the switchover from analog to digital systems is being looked upon as a game-changer in the TV broadcast industry.
While broadcasters will move from an advertisement revenue model to a subscription based one, there will be substantial lowering of operations cost of running channels. At present, carriage and placement fees corner nearly 20% of the total cost of running a TV channel. It will also end the regime of hefty carriage fees they pay to cable TV operators in the Rs 20,000 crore industry.
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.
Consumers will also benefit with more channels of their choice besides sharper pictures and better sound quality.
Most cable operators complain that a huge investment of Rs 10,000 crore is required for complete digitalisation, which they are not capable of investing, besides requirements of transmitters, encoders, decoders, modulators, servers and space.