Thursday, 1 November 2012

What US couldn't do in 7 years, we did in 7 months

Finally the day of reckoning has come for I&B Ministry after the digital era dawns on 1st November and people endorse its claim of a grand success in digitalizing the cable TV industry in the four metros. This will also pave way for the second phase of the process where thirty eight cities with million plus population are included. There is not enough time left for this phase also as the deadline is 31st March 2012, just five months. What I did not like was the way Ministry officials pressurized the LCOs and the consumers through threatening advertisements joined by DTH operators who had nothing to do with digitalization of cable TV.
It is true that after changing the base line of its calculations (I wish they are true), Ministry has shown a great achievement in STB Penetration. Most industry watchers including MPA, most trusted research agency of Ministry and TRAI say these figures are not true, overall success may be about 65% as per them. I wonder why the Ministry officials are so eager to finish the whole process in such a hurry without considering the problems on the ground faced by the stake holders, including the LCOs and the consumers. Something that US took seven years and still not completed , ministry has done in seven months. I am sure our consumers are much richer than the Americans. 
Sad part is that the situation is very hotchpotch where consumers do not know why they are being forced to buy a service increasing their expenses when they were happy with the previous one and LCOs do not know what they will get after doing so much of work.
Anyway once started, government must keep up the pressure on the MSOs to provide real choice and quality to consumers as promised. The way channel packages are being offered, it is not going to happen and consumers will be left with unwanted channels in packages. Even the TRP mess will remain as broadcasters are doing only package deals in lump sum and there is no transparency.
Good thing about digitalization is that new media technologies and innovative digital services can be now introduced quickly. Soon we shall have security, banking, shopping and e-governance services and host of other value additions on cable. But before that someone will have to start upgrading the last mile infrastructure for two way broadband services. This can be done by LCOs if they get adequate revenue from MSOs or MSOs may invest their own money because they will benefit the most.
We bring you some very interesting technologies for smart homes in this issue. With digital cable, the in-house wiring of cable can be replaced with WiFi gateways and android set-top-boxes providing multiplatform experience to the consumers.
Zee has completed 20 years in the Industry and we are glad to have Subhash Chandra telling us his views on evolution of the Zee Group and the industry at large.
Diwali is very close and we wish all our readers a very happy and prosperous time ahead. Hope digitalization does not bring a blacked out television for any one .
A very Happy festive season to all.

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma


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