The Rapidly Digitising Face Of Indian Television

New Delhi: No more pixelated, grainy pictures on TV. In about a month, four Indian metropolises - around 10 million households - will switch over to the digital television mode that promises super-clear picture quality and scores of channels to boot.

The government is pushing for complete digitisation of the cable television network and as a first step the four metros of Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai will go digital by Oct 31. In the rest of the country, the process is to be completed by December 2014.

Around 70 percent of the cable TV network in the four cities has been digitized so far, with the maximum in Mumbai - over 95 percent completed.

TV owners will have to buy set top boxes - costing between 800-1,000 - to receive the signals.

"The four metros are almost nearing digitisation...digitalisation is an idea whose time has come," Supriya Sahu, joint secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and in charge of the project, told IANS.

"Digitalisation has become critical because if cable operators don't digitise they will face competition from DTH (direct to home) providers," Sahu said, adding that digitalisation was "proceeding at a rate of one million a month".

"If cable digitalisation does not happen, DTH could capture the market. The cable TV operator has no option but to adopt to digitalisation in order to be relevant and to provide good service," she added.

The analog system of cable TV, which has been in use for the past two decades, will end as the digital addressable system (DAS) comes into force from Oct 31 in the four metros.

Digitalisation of cable services was made mandatory through the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Act of November 2011. The original act was passed in 1995.

After the four metros, cities with a population of more than one million like Pune, Ahmedabad and Bangalore will begin phasing out of the analog system. The process is to be completed in the entire country by Dec 31, 2014.

According to Sahu, India has 146 million television homes, of which 51 percent receive cable TV. Of the rest, 25 percent homes have DTH and the balance have DTH of the state-owned Doordarshan or get Doordashan signals terrestrially through old-time antennas.

Source: IANS