On 3rd June, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting organized a one-day workshop for state level nodal officers. Speaking on the occasion, Shri J. S. Mathur, Additional Secretary, Ministry of I&B welcomed the representatives of various states and emphasized that priority should be given to this initiative. Elaborating on its importance, Shri Mathur said that a lot of work has been done by the Ministry of I&B in this regard and that it would be beneficial even for the states as it would eventually lead to increase in revenue and job creation.
Addressing the participants in the workshop, Ms. R. Jaya, Joint Secretary, Ministry of I&B said that the initiative of digitization is a step towards the dream of ‘Digital India’. Elaborating on the advantages of the Digital Addressable Systems (DAS), she said that it would give the consumers more choice in terms of the channels being accessed and also provide quality viewing to the consumers. While in the analogue system, the consumer does not have any choice, in digital system, the viewers can choose his/her channels. In addition, digitization as per TRAI recommendations would bring services like telephony, TV viewing with add-on services, gaming, movie-on-choice, recording and finally broadband services to the households. Hence, it would also be instrumental in bringing the last mile broadband connectivity fulfilling the dream of Digital India.
From the point of view of the states, she added that it would lead to huge employment generation through appointment of bill collectors, establishment of call-centers for an adequate grievance redressal system and after sale service of set top boxes etc. It would also lead to increment in revenue as a transparent and accountable subscriber management system, being put in place which will provide exact number of subscribers. The experiences of states which have initiated in earlier phases of digitization show that they are receiving greater revenue returns.
Emphasizing on the need to bring in digitization, Shri S.K.Gupta, Principal Advisor, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said that it was important to get the cooperation of all stakeholders in order to achieve this gigantic target. He also said that the broadcasters have assured of their cooperation and adequate seeding of set top boxes would also be implemented, as an estimated 5 crore set top boxes would be needed in Phase III of digitization. The states also need to cooperate by appointing nodal officers, who could follow up this initiative. For this, all complaints need to be addressed in a time bound manner and ingenuity may be exercised in implementation, he added.
The participants from states across India were also encouraged to be a part of the digitization initiative. The states’ representatives noted the significance of adopting the Digital Addressable System (DAS) and assured that they would take adequate steps at all levels to make the initiative a success. It was also proposed that if such meetings could be held at regional levels or through video-conferencing, it would be of larger benefit to the participants as well as educate the people. It was learnt that such workshops at district level were conducted in Himachal Pradesh by the State Government. Participants desired that a list of Dos & Don’ts and the role of district level nodal officers may be provided by the Ministry.
Since November, 2011, when the Government of India took the decision of bringing in digitization of cable TV network, 2 phases have already been completed. While the Phase I brought four metro cities within the fold of digitization, Phase II ending March, 2013 saw digitization in 38 cities across India. Elaborating on the deadlines, Ms. R.Jaya said that the deadline for Phase III of digitization is 31st December, 2015 which will witness the roll out in all urban areas while in Phase IV i.e. by 31st December, 2016, in rest of the country. Thus by 2016, it is envisioned to bring the entire country under Digital Addressable System (DAS) fulfilling PM’s vision of Digital India.