Even as many states have stayed the implementation of television distribution digitization, the Information & Broadcasting Ministry said on Friday it will stick to the deadline for the phase III and IV markets. The government had initially given a December 2014 deadline to complete the third phase of digitization, but due to a slew of issues it was extended by a year. But late last year many states got court orders to stay the implementation. Also Read - Ola to offer free oxygen concentrators to the needyAlso Read - Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Long-term Review
“We are totally committed to digitization. When we stopped to give the third extension after December 31, 2015, some cable bodies obtained stay orders from high courts. So we have gone to the Supreme Court to plug all these litigation,” I&B secretary Sunil Arora told the Ficci Frames in Mumbai. At present, implementation has been stayed for varying periods across phase III markets of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Sikkim, Telangana apart from Tamil Nadu, where digitally addressable system implementation has been challenged since phase I rollout.
Phase III is largest addressable market with estimated analog subscriber base of about 39 million households. As per fifth updated list of urban areas to be covered under phase III, nearly 14.6 million households are expected to be impacted due to the stay order, accounting for nearly 44 percent of the addressable households in these markets.
Due to low household concentration in some areas, government remapped such areas from phase III to phase IV as a result nearly 4.9 million households were removed from phase III, bringing down total addressable population from 38.8 million households to 33.2 million, with the maximum impact being felt in Bengal, Kerala, Goa and Jharkhand, as per Icra. On FM radio auctions, Arora further said the ministry will be approaching the Cabinet with a new set of proposals for the next batch of the third phase of FM radio auctions.
“We did FM auctions last year and we found some glitches in terms of lock-in period, reserve price, which we are rectifying now. Soon we will be going to the Cabinet with a new set of proposals, for the next phase of FM radio auctions,” he said.
A total of 839 frequencies are proposed to be auctioned in batches during phase III. The first batch of phase III auctions began on July 27, 2015 and ended on September 16, 2105 with 135 frequencies, of which 97 frequencies were won on a provisional basis. On the proposed national film archives, he said the ministry has started working doggedly on the Rs 598-crore project. It is spread over five years and seeks to preserve 1,000 feature and non-feature films by getting them curated, stored, restored and digitized.
He said the government is setting up a Rs 160-crore national center of excellence for animation, VFX and gaming, comics in Mumbai. Maharashtra has already agreed to provide 25 acres around Film City.