TV broadcast digitisation to end cable TV carriage fee

New Delhi: In a key step that will benefit both the cable and satellite TV industry and consumers, the government Thursday cleared an ordinance that seeks to fast-track the digitisation of TV broadcasts.

“The union cabinet agreed to send the proposal for an ordinance of the ministry to the rashtrapati (president) for consideration and approval,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters after a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The ordinance seeks to amend the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act to meet the March 31, 2012 deadline for digitisation in the four top metros by 2014.

The move is expected to boost the subscription revenues for broadcasters as it promises to end hefty carriage fee they pay to the cable TV operators.

According to an estimate, carriage and placement fee contribute around 20 percent of the total cost of running a channel. All satellite channels will be beamed to houses through set-top boxes.

The cable and satellite television industry is expected to be worth Rs.20,000 crore.

After the president clears the ordinance, cable operators will have to give up analog in the four metros by March 31, 2012. Cities with a population of one million will be covered by March 31, 2013. All urban areas would be covered by Sep 30, 2014 while the entire country will be covered by Dec 31, 2014.

The new arrangement will mean more choice for consumers as digital platforms will carry more channels and offer superior quality. Digital cables can carry up to 1,000 channels.

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