Monday, 1 April 2013

Heading for a chaos

The second phase of digitalisation is also over. I must congratulate I&B Ministry officials who have devised a quick fix formula of making their digitalisation process always a success. The formula is - make a policy, give a deadline irrespective of the factors involved, go to big events and announce their plans confidently, even assure to complete implementation much before time, gag the press and other media warning them only to publish government releases and nothing else and then on the day before the deadline send a release declaring great success, even up to 150% in some cities and then lie low till the announcement of the next phase.
So, on 31st March we had 70% overall achievement in seeding STBs in 38 cities. In some cities percentage went beyond 150 and in most it is near 90%. Great work done by the Ministry. It shows how efficient our officials are and how affluent and knowledgeable our people are who adopted the new technology so quickly. In this regard we have even left behind USA and Europe to the category of underdeveloped countries because they took more than 10 years to do the task and also had to pay the consumers to buy STBs.
It is another matter that LCOs all over are protesting, blacking out TV sets in many cities, Chief Ministers are writing to the Ministry to delay the process as STBs are not available, Some independent MSOs in these cities have not even received their licenses and High Courts in some states have stayed the digitalisation process allowing analogue signals to continue.
What is the end result? No quality, no choice to consumers, no a-la-carte rates, no taxes to the government, no consumer KYC forms filled and no SMS working. More than 50% households are yet to get STBs, no stoppage of carriage fee and no increase in any stakeholder's revenue except for vertically integrated media groups. Was digitalisation implemented only to help them?
TRAI is still struggling to impose 12 mnt/hr restriction on ad duration in TV channels. Every time it tried to do this, broadcasters pounced on it and started showing their teeth, scaring the regulator to the hilt who would now underground for a while.
CCBN, the Chinese Cable TV Show in Beijing was held last month but very few Indians were seen there this time. I thought many would reach the show being biggest in Asia, to negotiate manufacturing deals as our government is trying to encourage STB manufacture in the country. I could meet only a few small manufacturers there.
Technologies like OTT, EoC and GEPON were in the lime light but I wonder why Indian Cable TV Industry is still shy of adopting them. I feel these technologies can do better in India than QAM and DOCSIS.
Indian government has announced the roadmap of implementing IPV6 internet technology last month. Hope it does not remain on papers only.
I wonder if, after the experience of phase I& II, our government will carry on with Phase III & IV. Only time will tell.

—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma


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