15-day grace period to get TV set-top box

Three million cable TV viewers in 38 cities have got a 15-day respite from the government, which had set March 31 as the deadline to switch to a digital platform by installing a set-top box.

As many as 16 million TV-owning households were supposed to make the switch before the deadline, but the government - keeping in mind the obsession with TV shows in the country - decided to go easy.

"When you implement such an ambitious project, you have to balance the imperatives of delivering on a statutory requirement and people's sensitivities," information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said.

The ministry's top bureaucrat, Uday Kumar Varma, said the deadline has not been revised, but a "transition time" of about a fortnight has been given.

The ministry has asked multi-system operators - an intermediary between broadcasters and local cable operators - not to pull the plug just yet.

Low-income households are often the slowest to upgrade to a set-top box, which costs Rs. 799, excluding taxes.

The exercise is the second leg of a compulsory digital upgrade in towns with a population of more than one million.

In December 2011, the Parliament passed a bill to digitise the cable-television sector by 2014 to enable better visuals, more channels and more revenue for broadcasters.

The Capital has already completed the process.


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