No Extension For Third Phase Cable TV Digitisation: Government

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Kolkata: The government will not extend the cut-off date for third phase of cable TV digitisation on January 31, 2017, an official said on Friday.

“We are not going to extend the deadline for phase three. We had to extend it earlier due to various court cases although there was no stay order,” Information and Broadcasting ministry’s Secretary Ajay Mittal said at an interactive session of the Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The third phase covers urban areas while the target for the fourth phase, which is to be achieved by March 31, is for rural areas. The official said analog signals would be switched off on the target dates in the respective areas.

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“Hopefully we don’t have to extend the phase four dates,” Mr Mittal said, adding that digitisation had been a major challenge for the government but it would give viewers a choice to select which channels they wanted to watch and also improve the quality reception.

Stating that DD News is the top news channel in the country, he said they did not have the real figures of viewership for Doordarshan, but with digitisation they would have it. “They may not be having breaking news all the time. But they have faith and responsibility in their reporting. The authenticity is very high,” he said.

The Information and Broadcasting ministry’s secretary also brought to forth the issue of quality in channels meant for kids. He questioned whether such channels have quality content and promote value system. Stating that the digital media is witnessing the fastest growth, Mr Mittal pointed out that they had recently set up a new media wing in the ministry.

They also had a meeting of officers from different state government officers on how to accept and deal with the challenges posed by the new media in which West Bengal did not send its representative, he said.

“Unfortunately there is no regulatory framework in the digital media space. What you cannot see on TV, cannot hear on radio is possibly there on the web,” he said, adding that the moment they would block one website for objectionable content they started another one.

However, he maintained that the best form of regulation is self-regulation and the government would like to keep away as far as possible. The union government was trying to get the original copy of the first ‘Devdas’ film which is now in Bangladesh.

“We are working on it,” he said they have got hold of a copy of a silent film made in 1919 in Kolkata from the National Archives of France.

“We’ll release it very soon,” he said, adding that the Rs. 200 crore national museum of cinema would also be thrown open very soon.