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Kolkata cable body refutes Govt claim on STB penetration

Asks how the penetration level could reach 67 per cent from 20 per cent in three months despite the fact that the STB seeding process did not take off because of various reasons

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | September 24, 2012

The Cable & Broadband Operators’ Welfare Association (WB) of Kolkata has raised an objection on the set-top box penetration figures presented by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The government had claimed that 68 per cent of Cable TV digitisation has already been achieved in the four metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

The association that represents the cable operators of Bengal and attends various meetings called by I&B Ministry and TRAI on DAS, has presented a different picture on the ground in a written statement released to the press.

The statement says that a meeting was called by the Minister of Information & Broadcasting with the stakeholders on June 8, 2012 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, in connection with the Digitalisation of Cable TV System in four metro cities where Supriya Sahoo, Joint Secretary, MIB, made the following points:

1. The national level MSOs have achieved varying degrees of STB seeding vis-a-vis their subscribers’ base. As on June 1, 2012, it was 12.5 per cent in Chennai, 19.94 per cent in Delhi, 20.67 per cent in Kolkata and 38.46 per cent in Mumbai. Approximately, 94 lakh STBs were still to be seeded. The seeding rate was 7000-8,000 per day in the previous two months (i.e., April and May-2012), leaving the target of seeding 4 lakh STBs per day in June 2012.

2. Another meeting was held on August 30, 2012 at Hotel Meridian, New Delhi, where it was also stated that about 1.75 lakh STBs required to be seeded per day to meet the deadline of November 1, 2012 for implementation of DAS.

According to the statement, “The extension of implementation date of digitalisation of cable TV was made for due to low penetration and request from all the main stakeholders of the industry - the MSOs and cable operators. However, the situation has not changed much from June 2012 till September 2012 because of various reasons. The STB seeding process did not take off as the interconnect agreement, packaging and pricing were not finalised and, as a result, cable operators could not start dialogue with the consumers on the product.”

The association said that it could not understand how the penetration percentage of STBs has jumped from 20.67 per cent in the month of June 2012 as stated by Sahoo to 67 per cent in mid-September in Kolkata. The fact behind such poor STB penetration also lies in non-availability of STBs with some of the MSOs in Kolkata even at this juncture. “We, therefore, strongly refute such wrong figures which are unjust, unfair, got no basis and are confusing to public interest,” said the association.

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