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Still no decision on India cable TV deadline delay

An anticipated deadline extension for the digitisation of the television cable networks in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai failed to materialise on Friday (15 June), with the government saying a decision on deferment will follow this week.

An hour long digitisation 'task force' meeting, chaired by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Secretary Uday Kumar Varma, reportedly heard strong views from cable and multi system operators seeking an extension to the 30 June deadline, as well as from the broadcasters who advocate no delay.

While some cable operators and state governments are seeking a six month extension, other MSOs would reportedly be content with the deadline for the first phase of digitisation to be moved to September 2012.

Citing Mumbai as the most advanced city in the conversion to digital TV, Varma said the government was now better informed of the stakeholders' readiness to launch.

Following petitions by cable operators seeking an extension to the deadline, the Bombay High Court will also hear the matter on 18 June, while Delhi High Court will sit on 20 June. Furthermore, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) meets on 25 June to deliberate the current time frame.

It is therefore conceivable the government may defer its own decision until receiving legal directives as to the suitability of the first phase deadline of 30 June 2012.

A reported 20% of the set top boxes required for the four metros included in the first phase of cable TV digitisation have now been installed, with the current deadline approaching in just two weeks time.

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