'Bengal would not meet Dec 27 deadline for digitisation'

Kolkata, Dec 17: With just 10 days left for the cable TV digitisation deadline to end, West Bengal Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim on Monday said the state would not be able to meet it as the digitisation process remained incomplete.

"Several consumers here have already installed set-top boxes (STBs), but many still have not yet put it up due to shortage in supply of equipment and higher prices," he said. A delegation of multi-system operators (MSOs), who had been called in Delhi by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, on Monday met the minister at the state secretariat saying they were cautioned by the I and B authority to complete the digitisation process till Dec 27 or face cancellation of their licences. Hakim assured them that the state government would take appropriate steps against the Centre's stand if necessary.

"Since sudden black-out can invite disruption of law and order situation in the state, the government will not hesitate to take tough step against Centre's stand if the deadline was not deferred till the situation became conducive for digitisation," Hakim said. "How dare they threat MSOs from the state? The I&B officials should visit the state to assess the ground reality before taking any drastic action," the minister said.

Hakim said he had earlier requested the Centre for sufficient time to complete the digitisation process and make some arrangement so that poor people could purchase STBs. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier threatened to launch an agitation if TV transmission was blacked out after the Oct 31 deadline for digitisation and accused the Centre of trying to adopt a path of "confrontation" with the states on the issue.


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