The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) yesterday came out with the long-awaited recommendations for the cable and broadcasting industry by suggesting that all cable operators need to switch from the current analogue cable TV signals system to digital by end December 2013.
After prolonged discussions between the cable industry and the regulator, TRAI finally has come up with the much needed cut-off date for digitising the country's cable networks that will be line in with most developed and developing countries.
In announcing its key recommendations for the cable and broadcasting industry TRAI has said that the cable digitisation process will be in four phases and by 31 December 2013 all cable TV signals in the country should be on the digital system.
The switch from analogue to digital will be as follows:
- Phase I: four Metros – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, by 31t March 2011.
- Phase II: In all cities having a population of over one million, by 31 December 2011.
- Phase III: In all other urban areas (municipal corporations/municipalities), by 31 December 2012.
- Phase IV: In the rest of India, by 31 December 2013.
Since the service providers, that include multi-system operators and local cable operators may have to invest about Rs55,000 crore on infrastructure upgrading, the regulator has recommended that those who upgrade to digital equipment by April next year, should be given an eight-year income tax holiday from April 2011 to March 2019.
Trai has also recommended that the basic custom duty on digital head-end equipments and Set Top Boxes be reduced to zero for the next three years in order to give a boost to conversion of the broadcast distribution network to digital.