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Idiot Box goes blank

Idiot Box goes blank
Highlights

Set Top Box rules come into effect in HydA Time extended by 15 days in Vizag 20 lakh households in Hyd cut off from service Court to hear...

  • Set Top Box rules come into effect in HydA
  • Time extended by 15 days in Vizag
  • 20 lakh households in Hyd cut off from service
  • Court to hear petition today
  • Operators hold dharna asking for extension
Hyderabad: With the March 31 deadline for mandatory installation of set-top-boxes (STBs) ending, television sets without STBs went blank on Monday in many parts of the city. The shortage of set-top-boxes coupled with confusion surrounding which areas come into the purview of the rule led to lakhs of households failing to install the STBs before the deadline time. In Visakhapatnam the joint collector has extended the time for installation of STBs by 15 days. On Monday, approximately 20 lakh households in Hyderabad turned on their television sets to static even as they scrambled to their cable operators for the STBs. Hathway, which is one of the major service providers, switched off analog signals across the city. "Over 40 per cent of the city's viewers are covered by Hathway and they switched off the signals today, even as we are seeking an extension of the deadline," said L Hari Goud, president, Greater Hyderabad Cable TV Operators Association. Protesting this move by Hathway, over 200 cable operators gathered outside the service provider's office in Himayatnagar on Monday. "We have given a representation to Hathway requesting them to telecast a few free-to-air channels till the time we have enough STBs to provide. They said they would get back to us by Tuesday evening", one operator said. Meanwhile, the High Court hearing on the petition seeking extension of deadline has been postponed for Tuesday. "We are hopeful of getting an extension from the court as the courts in Ahmedabad and Bengaluru have given extensions too," said Hari Goud. The Hathway representative Raja Shekar was unavailable to comment. But for many like Ravali M, a housewife, the day began on a confusing note. "We were assured by our cable TV operator that they would get an extension and since there was a shortage of set-top-boxes we had no other choice but to wait," she said. Narasaiah, a watchman living in Prakash Nagar, said that he was unaware of the mandatory rule. "I had heard about it from my neighbour yesterday and I did not know it was mandatory. My cable operator told me today morning about it," he said. Many continue to complain about the lack of information on which areas come under the rule's purview. "I live in Ranga Reddy district and am being told that even I need to take STB. I wish there was some clarity regarding this," said Uma Maheshwar, a trader. Of the 38 cities where STB has been made mandatory by April 1, two are from Andhra Pradesh � Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam.
Time extended in Vizag
Meanwhile our Visakhapatnam Correspondent adds that, the joint collector Pravin Kumar extended the deadline for installation of set top boxes by another 15 days following a request from the multiple signal operators. The joint collector held discussions with the operators of Media Vision, Sri Devi, Vaavi and City Cable late on Sunday evening on the progress of the installation. They told him that so far only 5 percent of the total 5.5 lakh connections could be equipped with the boxes and they needed another 15 days to cover the entire district. Sri Devi gave him assurance to cover at least one lakh homes by April 15, followed by Media Vision 60,000, Vaavi 30,000 and City Cable 10,000. The joint collector agreed to their request but cautioned them not to charge more than prescribe price for the boxes. The monthly charges should also remain same till it was decided by the broadcasters, he said. But sources said not even 5 percent was achieved when the deadline expired on March 31. The MSO need at least Rs 35 crore to get the boxes from the supplier and they were waiting to charge the amount from the subscribers. The operators told the joint collector that they can synchronise and software only 50 boxes per day and there should not be pressure from the authorities after the boxes were installed.
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