City keeps digital date

Calcutta finally made the digital switch on Friday with all but a handful of Bengali news channels going off the analogue beam of all major multi-system operators.

Industry insiders said the move would push up the sales of set-top boxes (a must for receiving digital signals) and bring about 100 per cent digital coverage.

Delhi and Mumbai had made the switch three months earlier, on November 1, 2012.

The city MSOs were caught between the information and broadcasting ministry, which wanted a complete digital switch at the earliest, and the state government, which wanted them to continue with the analogue beam so people below the poverty line were not inconvenienced.

The Trinamul government apparently gave the go-ahead for the switch after the MSOs at a meeting with urban development minister Firhad Hakim earlier this week came up with a scheme for the BPL section.

However, to keep the ruling party happy, most MSOs are still airing DD Bangla and four Bengali news channels known to be pro-Trinamul on the analogue beam.

Two MSOs, which together service about 12 per cent of the city's 42-lakh television sets and still need time to distribute set-top boxes to its customers, kept 50-odd analogue channels running on Friday. They have promised to take off 10-15 channels every day from Saturday.

Two popular Bengali general entertainment channels, however, found their way into homes with analogue cable till Friday. "It was a tightrope walk for us," admitted a senior executive of a leading MSO.

Going by industry sources, the extent of digitisation in the city as on Friday varied between 65 and 85 per cent.

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