West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has decided to go on a collision course with the Centre over the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry's initiative to digitise cable TV operations by ordering introduction of set-top boxes (STBs) in the four major metros, including Kolkata, by October 31.
"We won't allow forceful installation of STBs in West Bengal. Those who have not yet opted for the STBs will have to be given the option of watching channels in the existing analog format," Mamata said here on Tuesday after meeting multi-system operators (MSOs) and cable operators' associations.
Arguing that the Centre should have considered several aspects such as availability of STBs and purchasing power of citizens before mounting pressure, she accused the Centre of trying to adopt a path of "confrontation" with states on the issue.
Hinting that there could be a scam in the order to switch over to STBs, Mamata said, "Why are they in a hurry for the switchover? Why only Chinese companies? Why did they not encourage domestic products if they knew it was coming?"
Caught in the crossfire between the Centre and the state, nearly 10 lakh homes in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area are not sure if they would be able to watch their favourite TV channels after October 31.
An employee of an MSO said: "Once the deadline is over, the Centre can not only cancel our licence if we continue with analog signals but can even pressurise broadcasters such as Star, Zee and Sony to stop providing us with decoders." If the latter happens the TV sets will go blank.