Only 20% metro homes have digital set-top boxes
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With their request to extend the June 30 deadline for the four-metro rollout of the digital addressable system (DAS) turned down, large cable operators are staring at a mammoth task of seeding 9.6 million digital set-top boxes (STB) in the next three weeks.
This is because, till June 1, only one in five cable homes across metros actually had the mandatory digital STBs. Against a combined requirement of 12.5 million digital STBs across Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, only 2.9 million STBs were actually seeded, the data shared by the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry with the stakeholders revealed.
Among the four metros, Mumbai leads with the highest penetration of digital STBs (47%) till June 1, while Kolkata fares the worst with 19%. The National capital Region managed to seed digital STBs in nearly 24% cable homes, while Chennai is yet to seed these new DAS boxes.
Among the national multi-service operators (MSOs), Hathway leads the pack, having seeded 40% of its 2.2 million customer base in these metros, followed by InCable, which has covered 26% of its 1.5 million customers in these metros. Digicable (25%) and DEN (22%) came next among their 4 million subscriber-base (2 million each for Digicabl and DEN), the data revealed.
"Independent operators have done much better work on the ground than the organised national MSOs. These numbers show that a lot more work is required in a short time. The decision for extension or a way forward will be taken after June 15," said a senior government official.
Meanwhile, I&B minister Ambika Soni is said to have held one-on-one talks with pay broadcasters and their representative bodies like the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) and News Broadcasters Association (NBA), which are opposed to any extension of the June 30 DAS rollout deadline.
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