While broadcasters and Direct to Home (DTH) operators expressed unhappiness over the extension of the deadline for the first phase of digitalization, there was cheer among multi system operators (MSOs) while local cable operators said they expected an extension till the year-end.
Welcoming the deadline extension by four months, Ashok Mansukhani, president, MSO Alliance, said: “The earlier deadline was impractical as it was not possible to cover 10 million households within just six weeks time." "The new deadline of October 31 is a bit tough but is reasonable and the industry should be able to meet the deadline or at least expect 80% of the households to be covered."
"The deadline should have actually been postponed to December 31, instead of October 31 because even extra four months are not enough to seed the required number of set-top-boxes in the market," said Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI) President Roop Sharma.
Expressing disappointment over the extension, Harit Nagpal, president, DTH Operators Association of India, said in a release: “The DTH community which is licensed, regulated and pays taxes on behalf of everyone of it's customers has once again lost out to its analog competitors who are not subjected to these rules.” He summed up the extension as a ‘major setback’ for the industry that had invested a great deal in terms of Set-top-Box Inventory and installer manpower to cater to the expected demand on the cutover date.
"We are very disappointed with the change in the date. It was a law enacted and approved by Parliament, which was supposed to benefit the citizens," News Broadcasters Association President Narayan Rao told a news agency.
On Wednesday, the information and broadcasting ministry, citing lack of preparedness in the installation of Set Top Boxes (STBs), had extended the June 30 deadline to October 31 for a complete switchover of cable TV from analog to a digital platform in the four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. The government is aiming at complete digitalization across the country by December 31, 2014.