With just five days left for cable televisions mandatory switch from analogue to digital signals in 38 cities,data released by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Tuesday showed that installation of set-top boxes is far from complete in 26 cities.
Lakhs of households in these cities face the possibility of a television blackout as broadcasters said they will switch off all analogue signals from midnight on Sunday.
The ministry said installation of set-top boxes for the transition is nearly complete in Hyderabad,Amritsar,Chandigarh and Allahabad while around 75 per cent of the cable television households have been covered in Jodhpur,Thane,Aurangabad,Jaipur,Pune,Faridabad,Nashik and Ghaziabad. The ministry has set a deadline of March 31 for the second phase of its digitisation drive in 38 cities across 15 states. In 26 cities,the process has been painfully slow. While more than half of the cable TV households remain to be covered in 10 cities,set-top boxes have been installed in a little over 50 per cent of the homes in 16 cities. Sources in the ministry said it would not officially push back the March 31 deadline,but could informally relax it by some days.
Overall,the ministry said 67 per cent of the digitisation target has been achieved in 38 cities till last Saturday. It said a total of 1.08 crore set-top boxes have been installed as against the target of 1.60 crore,which mean 52 lakh set-top boxes are yet to be seeded.
The Indian Broadcasting Foundation said broadcasters will switch off all analogue signals from midnight on Sunday as such a move is necessary to smoothen the transition from analogue to digital cable TV. The IBF and its members are committed to the successful implementation of digitisation. Our awareness campaign has received very good response, IBF president Manjit Singh said.