Fearing action, UP’s last cable TV sets blink

Lucknow, May 8 (IANS) The last of television sets hooked on to cable networks blinked Tuesday midnight in Uttar Pradesh after operators cut transmission fearing the information and broadcasting ministry’s wrath.

With a meeting called by the ministry in Delhi, officials confirmed to IANS that the multi system operators (MSO) pulled the plug on remaining transmission, accounting for 70,000 TV sets in Lucknow alone.

At the Wednesday meeting, ministry officials will take details of the compliance of orders from entertainment officials of all districts in the sprawling state.

“The meeting in Delhi expects us to explain the digitization process so far,” said an official.

The major service providers of cable television networks have confirmed to the Uttar Pradesh government that they have stopped analog broadcasts and will now only allow this once the set top boxes are installed.

Cable operators, however, are protesting the move as they say the withdrawal of the analog would coincide with the supply of the set top boxes, which they rue was in short supply.

“There is an endless wait list in the supply of set top boxes. I feel that snapping of cable network in the state without making arrangements is unfair to the subscribers,” said Anil Upadhyaya, president of the Uttar Pradesh Cable Operator Welfare Association.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had March 30 written to Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tiwari, seeking deferring of the March 31 deadline by another six months.

Under phase II of the digitization process, seven UP cities, Varanasi, Lucknow, Agra, Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Meerut and Allahabad, have been selected.

In these cities, television transmission had ceased to work from March 31 and thereafter transmission was only available through the digital addressable system.

The central government did not agree though the multi-system operators had allowed analog transmission till Tuesday, and the state government had decided to look the other way.

But fearing action by the central government on digitization deadlines, the operators snapped the last TV sets Tuesday midnight.

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