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Government set for digitisation information campaign

A mass media campaign to inform the public about India's cable TV digitisation schedule is to be launched by the Indian Government next month.

An 'all out' digitisation campaign begins in February via Facebook and other social media networks, websites and toll free numbers, as well as through advertisements in the print media, and on TV and radio, according to the Hindustan Times.

India's vast cable TV network is to be digitised in stages, beginning with the four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata by June 2012, while cities with a population of one million are follow by 31 March 2013, according to the recently passed Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Second Amendment Act.

There are an estimated 135 million TV households in the country, of which 110 million currently subscribe to analogue services.

"A strategy paper is also being finalized on the dynamics. How many set top boxes (STB) will be required in various cities, and in the various phases, how many of them can be locally manufactured and how many are to be imported? What kind of fiscal incentives can be offered to stakeholders in the industry - all these will be clear very soon," an unnamed government official is quoted as saying in the Hindustan Times.

India's entire cable network is set be digitised by the end of 2014, bringing with it more choice, quality and better value for customers, as well as and expected reduction in carriage costs charged to broadcasters to distribute their content. Currently, distribution and placement fees account for around 20% of a channel's operational cost in India.

Although costly to install for the country's many analogue operators, a digital addressable cable system will also help combat TV signal piracy – currently thought to cost the Indian broadcast industry US$1.4 billion a year, according to the Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA).

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