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Madras HC Extends Cable TV Digitization Deadline; Bombay HC Rejects Similar Petition

The Madras High Court has granted an interim injunction to Chennai Metro Cable TV Operators Association, extending the Cable TV Digitization deadline in Chennai from October 30, 2012 to November 5, 2012, reports PTI (via The Economic Times).

This injunction follows a writ petition filed by the president of the Chennai Metro Cable TV Operators Association as indicated by the report. Note that we were unable to locate the related judgement on the Madras High Court Website.

Not Enough Set-Top Boxes: According to the report, the Chennai Metro Cable TV Operators Association had claimed that it was facing difficulties in procuring the requisite set-top boxes (STBs) for implementing a Digital Access System (DAS) in Chennai. It also claimed that only 1.64 lakh homes in Chennai currently have STBs, contrary to government claims and that if the cable TV digitization deadline was enforced, more than 30 lakh homes would not have a television signal from November 1, as indicated by a similar TOI report. The association had therefore filed a petition to seek a complete stay on the implementation of DAS in Chennai till the necessary infrastructure was available.

Govenment Response: In response to this petition, S Haja Mohideed Gisthi, the advocate representing the central government, opposed any extension in the deadline since the petition was filed at the last minute, as indicated by the TOI report. He mentioned that the deadline had already been extended thrice, since its announcement in January 2011 and the government had inked an agreement with the cable operators to offer necessary STBs and it was cable operator’s prerogative to provide these STBs to their customers. He claimed that 62% homes in Chennai already have STBs.

Bombay High Court Rejects Extension Plea: Unlike the Madras High Court, the Bombay High Court however rejected a similar petition filed by Bhawani Rajesh Cable and Digitech, seeking a four month extension on the cable TV digitization deadline, reports India Today.

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According to the report, the court stated that the cable operators had failed to comply with these results in spite of importing more than 80,000 STBs during the period and the government had provided sufficient time for them to comply with this deadline. Note that we were unable to locate the related judgement on the Bombay High Court Website.

Digitization Status in Metros: Yesterday, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting claimed that 91% Cable TV digitization has been achieved in four metro cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. The ministry attributed this increase to the huge rise in the installation of STBs on October 30 in these metro cities. The ministry claimed that a total 1,05,180 STBs were installed on October 30, of which 65,000 boxes were installed in Delhi. It also noted that DEN Networks has reported total installations of about 50,000 Boxes in Delhi on October 31, 2012.

The ministry stated that Mumbai has achieved 100% digitization, followed by Delhi with 95% digitization, Kolkata with 83% digitization and Chennai with 62% digitization. However, it noted that these numbers didn’t include DTH subscribers and if they were considered, Mumbai’s digitization level remained at 100%, while Delhi’s digitization level increased to 97% and the digitization level of Chennai and Kolkata increased to 86% and 85% respectively. The total digitization level would increase from 91% to 94% digitization level.

Multi-system operators Digitally Ready: The ministry also stated that it had conducted visits to all digital head-ends and observed that most multi-system operators (MSOs) have tested their digital head-ends with with Conditional Access System and Subscriber Management System and are ready to switch to digital signals. It also noted that it will continue their visits for the next few days to ensure that cable operators have completely switched off analog signals.

Our Coverage of Cable TV Digitization:
I&B Ministry: 85% Cable TV Digitization Achieved In 4 Metros; TV Street Maps – MxM Survey Disputes Claim
– I&B Ministry: 77% Cable TV Digitization Achieved In 4 Metros
– Siti Cable Inks Rev-Share Agreements With Cable Operators For Digitization
– I&B Ministry: 68% Cable TV Digitization Achieved in 4 Metros
– I&B Ministry Makes It Mandatory For Cable Industry To Provide Data
– TRAI Contradicts I&B Ministry; Says Digitization Regulations Already In Force
– Deadline For Cable TV Digitization In Metros Extended To 31st October
– TRAI’s Digital Cable Regulations: Fixes Carriage Fee, Channels, Tariffs
– Indian Government To Use Social Media To Clear Doubts Around Digitalization
– Dish TV To Partner With Cable Operators
– DEN To Invest Rs 1000 Crore For Cable Network Digitization; What To Expect

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