The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has informed that it is in the process of installing Centralised Monitoring System to keep track of the mandated Cable TV Digitization that began last year.
The ministry said that this monitoring system will allow them to keep track of the channel encryption by licensed Multi System Operators (MSOs) and detect those who are not carrying the mandated encrypted signals as per the order. As per the Cable Television Networks Act, the government has made it mandatory to switch from analogue transmission of cable channels to digital transmission by December 2014.
Pilot Project in Bangalore: The ministry informed that it is currently conducting field trials for a web based pilot project for the DAS (Digital Addressable System) monitoring system installed at Bangalore and once the system is implemented, the Ministry will be able to track the implementation of DAS by all the MSO licensees.
It also added that this system will allow users to centrally acquire, store, analyse and prepare reports on the status of various DAS parameters like total number of channels, their names and encryption status of cable TV signals from head ends of each registered MSO across the country in real time. The ministry also plans to improve this system in the future to monitor content of cable TV channels at local levels.
Interestingly, the ministry also mentions that this system will eventually evolve as an alternate indicator for television ratings. The current TV ratings system depends on people meters to collect data related to viewing patterns from select house-holds. However, it has faced severe criticism for lack of accuracy and allegations of manipulation and NDTV had filed $1.3 billion lawsuit against Nielsen last July for manipulating television ratings, which was dismissed by the New York Court earlier this month.
Digitisation Process So Far: Earlier this month, Uday Kumar Varma, Secretary, Information & Broadcasting, said that as per the review taken in the Ministry, around 60% digitization has been completed in the 38 cities in Phase II and cities like Ahmedabad, Amritsar and Ludhiana are nearing complete switch over to digital. However no clear data has been released by the government yet.
In February 2012, the I&B Ministry had stated that 55% of the digitisation process has been reached in Phase II of the digitisation process, which is expected to cover 38 cities in the country and conclude by March 31, 2013.
Prior to this, the ministry had mentioned that 91% Cable TV digitization had been achieved in four metro cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, as of November 2012.