While Mumbai officially shifted to digital television on November 1, cable operators and multi-system operators (MSOs) said they were being forced to use analog signals in several areas in the city.
“Analog signals are still being used, not just in Mumbai but also in Delhi,” said Kuldeep Puri, who represents one of the six MSOs in the city.
“In several areas, especially in the slums, operators have been pressurised by customers to continue to provide analog signals,” said Anil Parab, president of the Cable Operators’ Association.
A cable operator from Dharavi claimed that analog signals were working in several houses in the slum area on Thursday. “90% of customers who came to us on Thursday demanded that they be allowed to get analog signals till the time set-top boxes were installed,” said the Dharavi operator. “Though we let analog signals continue in a few homes on Thursday, we will gradually stop providing the signals.”
Gulafsha Ansari, a Dharavi resident, said: “On Thursday, we got up to 30 channels, but on Friday, that was cut down to 20 channels. We are expecting it to be cut further over the next few days,” said Ansari. “The rates for STBs in our area have gone up to Rs2,500. We will have to wait till the rates come down.”
“We have requested leniency towards such operators at least till Diwali,” said Parab, who headed a protest at the collector’s office in Bandra on Friday, which was joined by more than 1,000 cable operators from the city. The operators had several demands, which included reduction in entertainment tax and protection for operators after they claimed that some local operators were assaulted by customers in several parts of the city on Thursday.
“We asked for protection for operators and have also demanded that the entertainment taxes for MSOs be brought down to Rs20 per subscriber," Parab said.
Collector Sanjay Deshmukh said the demands will be forwarded to the state government. The Bombay high court had earlier rejected the request by operators for a two-month deadline extension for digitisation, but the operators have decided to take the matter to the Supreme Court next week.