Kolkata, Nov 1 (IANS) The central government should have allotted more time for digitalisation of cable TV networks instead of thrusting a deadline, say cable operators here.
The deadline for digitalisation of analogue cable TV in the three metros of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata ended Wednesday midnight.
"More time would have created more awareness among consumers. They are yet to decide on the switchover," said Swapan Chowdhury, convener of the Cable Operators Digitalisation Committee of the Association of Cable Operators in the city.
According to Chowdhury, of 40 lakh cable subscribers only 14 lakh could go digital due to a shortage of set-top boxes.
Sumit Ray of Galaxy Communications said, "Of the subscribers who have already applied, many are yet to receive the set-top boxes. There is a huge deficit of boxes. It will take a long time before all of them get the new device."
Besides the set-top box shortage, the move for the switchover has brought to the fore other problems faced by both consumers and operators.
"A set-top box will cost Rs.800-1,100. How can a low-income group consumer afford one right away," said Ray.
"We have been providing analogue cable services for the last 14-15 years, thus we could fix technical problems easily. With this sudden move, we have no time to get ourselves equipped with the required knowledge for digital services," added Ray.
Besides troubleshooting technical snags, generating bills also will pose a problem for operators.
"Without a proper system in place, how will the consumers pay their bills. We are still not clear as to how we will generate the bills," said Chowdhury.
As of now, the cable operators are running both analogue and digital services in pursuance of a request by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
"We have decided not to stop the analogue services immediately as requested by Mamata didi (elder sister - as Banerjee is called). It will take a minimum of six months before all the subscribers can go digital. It will be a gradual process," said Chowdhury.
The central government has made digitalisation mandatory for the cable television broadcast service from Oct 31 in four metropolitan cities - Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi and Kolkata.