As the deadline for the second phase of cable television digitisation drive came to an end on Sunday,one city where this process is being keenly watched is Srinagar where the progress is slow but significant.
The capital of Jammu and Kashmir,one of the 38 cities where television broadcasting is supposed to be fully digitised by Sunday,has barely started installation of set top boxes,according to sources in the state government,though the Information and Broadcasting Ministry claims that 20-25 per cent of cable TV households have already been covered.
Unlike in other cities,the digitisation drive in Srinagar has a security dimension as well. Installation of set top boxes in every household having a cable connection would help in tracking cable operators who carry channels being aired from across the border. With installation of set top boxes,the channels that reach each and every household can be monitored.
The government has been worried about the availability of PTV and other channels beamed from across the border in the Valley. Local television networks of Pakistan occupied Kashmir often indulge in anti-India propaganda. On a few occasions in the past,efforts to block PTV in the Valley had met with strong resistance from the people. As a result even the Home Ministry is watching the digitisation drive with keen interest. It wants the I&B Ministry to ensure that the drive is speeded up in Srinagar and then taken to the Valley and the whole state expeditiously. The Srinagar city has around 1.7 lakh cable television connections
Sources in the J&K government said the city lost precious time because of the upheaval after the execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. The city was practically shut down and prohibitory orders were in place. The process has started now and digitisation is happening although the deadline would be missed, a J&K official said.