TV set top boxes: Govt to allow grace period of 15 days

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New Delhi, April 2: The government is planning to go slow in enforcing black out on TV screens as about 25 per cent of 1.6 crore households missed the April 1 deadline to switch over to digitised cable television.

"We are giving a transition time of 10 to 15 days depending on the ground level situation so that there is no inconvenience to the people," Information & Broadcasting Secretary Uday Kumar Varma told PTI.

He, however, said there was no question of the deadline being extended by the government. With the deadline for the second phase of digitisation having expired yesterday, nearly 25 per cent TV viewing homes still have not installed set top boxes (STBs) in 38 cities that were to be covered.

According to ministry data, 1.6 crore cable TV houses had to be digitised by April 1. Officials said that multi-system operators (MSOs) and broadcasters have been told to switch off the signals in a phased manner and depending on the situation in various cities.

They said there is a huge diversity in the ground-level situation in various cities which the ministry would keep in mind while enforcing black outs. As per the data with the ministry, seven of the 38 cities -- Ludhiana, Hyderabad, Faridabad, Allahabad, Amritsar, Chandigarh and Jodhpur -- reported 100 per cent digitisation while three others -- Thane, Meerut and Jaipur -- have reported figures of over 90 per cent.

On the other side, till Monday, Vishakhapatnam which has over 5 lakh TV sets reported the minimum figures of 12.18 per cent digital TV sets.

Other cities like Srinagar (20 per cent), Coimbatore (28.89 per cent), Jabalpur (34.87 per cent), Kalyan Dombivli (38.59 per cent) were also lagging behind. I&B officials said they were coordinating with nodal officers in states to decide on the timing and manner of switch-off of analogue signals which will result in blank TV screens for non-digitised TV sets.

PTI

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