New Delhi: Admitting that foreign countries like China have gained in the first phase of India's ambitious Rs 24,000 crore digitisation process, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari has said government was now trying to boost indigenous industry in the next phases of the exercise which has created huge demand for set top boxes.
"We as a country are going to spend, I think, about Rs 24,000 crore if TRAI estimates are correct, on this whole process of digitisation. Out of that, about Rs 12,000 crore are going to be spent by the people of India on buying set top boxes (STBs).
"Rs 6,000 crore are being spent by the multi-system operators (MSOs) on upgrading their equipment. Another Rs 6,000 crore are going to be spent by MSOs on subsidies," Tewari told PTI.
"Now all the money which is being spent on buying set top boxes is like building a revenue model for China or Taiwan from where these boxes are coming. So possibly, there is a strong case as we go into the second, third and fourth phases of digitisation to really try and see if we can augment even at this late stage, some kind of domestic capacity," he said.
Tewari said that Secretary in the I&B Ministry Uday Kumar Varma was talking very "pro-actively" to his counterpart in the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to work out ways for the Indian industry to get advantage of the digitisation process.
As per the records of the Ministry, which had issued a notification in November 2011 for phase-wise digitisation of Analogue Cable Television Networks in the country, the process was completed in the metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata and as on November 5, 2012, 22.4 lakh STBs had been installed in Mumbai, 25.15 lakh in Delhi and the number of installed boxes was 17.74 lakh.
The matter is sub-judice in the Madras High Court about Chennai.
The cost of a STB varies from a minimum of Rs 800 to Rs 1,200. After the cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, the Ministry is now working to implement digital cable in Phase II cities, wherein the digitisation deadline in 38 cities in 15 states expires on March 31.