'Govt penetration claim on digitisation wrong'

'Govt penetration claim on digitisation wrong' Kolkata: A body of cable operators has contested the government's claim of 87 percent digitisation in four metros, claiming that it drastically reduced the number of cable television connections to prove higher penetration.

"The claim is not true as Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has reduced the cable connection estimate in the four metros from 1.33 crore to just 68.40 lakh in three months," Cable Operators Digitisation Committee convenor Swapan Chowdhury told PTI here.

"In a meeting with I&B officials it was estimated that the combined cable connections of all four metros was 1.33 crore. Yet in a subsequent meeting in September the number suddenly was reduced to just 68.40 lakhs," he said.

The Information and Broadcasting ministry had in a press release on Friday claimed that 81 percent figure had been reached in Cable TV digitisation and said if the figures of Direct to Home connections were added 87 percent Digitisation had been achieved in the four metros.

He said that the previous estimate was based on feedback provided by the cable operators' body and claimed that the reduced figure was incorrect.

"This was done deliberately to prove digitisation a success at the cost of consumers," he said.

He claimed that confusion prevailed in all aspects of digitisation from MSOs to local cable operators to consumers.

"Still there is no agreement between broadcasters and MSOs. Neither the MSOs nor the cable operators have signed any agreement," he said.

Unable to convince Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to revise the unviable tariff order announced in April, the cable operators had approached appellate authority TDSAT for a respite.

"Hearing is complete and we expect the order any day and then only the next course of action can be decided. The tariff announced by Trai is next to impossible because of higher cost for digitisation," Chowdhury said.

Moreover, he said, consumers were not able to know about the final cost with the Trai help desk unable to provide clarity and information except saying television without set top boxes would be blacked out.

PTI