Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has announced the extension of the deadline for the first phase of digitisation (including the four metros) by four months. The new date is set to be for November, 1.
The government agrees that surrendering to the pressure from the local cable operators, multi-system operators and some state governments, the deadline was extended. It may be recalled that in October 2011, March 31, 2012 was set as the deadline, which was postponed to June 30, which in turn has been further pushed by four months now.
Though the delay has been announced, the matter is still pending with the Mumbai and Delhi High Courts and TDSAT.
As a result of the latest development, all TRAI regulations for Digital Addressable System will come into effect from November 1. The government mentions that the modified target deadline is set with strict benchmarks to ensure that no complacency sets-in in the system and the new target date is achieved collectively by all the stakeholders.
The tariff orders were issued by the TRAI on April 30, instead of January, 2012. Also, the Quality of Service Regulations and the Consumer Complaint Redressal Regulations were issued on May 14, 2012. As per these, every broadcaster and MSO was required to publish its Reference Interconnect Offers (RIOs) within 30 days of issue of the regulation and also, set up a complaint redressal committee. Post that, 30 days are required for negotiations between broadcasters and MSOs.
On account of the delay in issuing the tariff orders and regulations by the TRAI, the complete process had to be postponed. The ministry has admitted that the assessment of these ground realities compelled it to set a new deadline.
The ministry is set to closely monitor the process of digitisation over the next four months, and will issue warning letters to those going slow on their written commitments.