Cable digitisation: HC refuses to extend deadline in Mumbai

In a decision which would lead to a 'TV black-out' for those who haven't yet installed set top boxes (STBs), the Bombay High Court refused to grant more time to cable network providers in the city to switch to digital addressable system (DAS).

hidden October 31, 2012 19:50:54 IST
Cable digitisation: HC refuses to extend deadline in Mumbai

Mumbai: In a decision which would lead to a 'TV black-out' for those who haven't yet installed set top boxes (STBs), the Bombay High Court refused to grant more time to cable network providers in the city to switch to digital addressable system (DAS).

The division bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and R G Ketkar, which was hearing the petition filed by Bhawani Rajesh Cable and Digitech against notification dated 21 June, 2012 issued by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the implementation of DAS in four metros by 31 October, refused to grant any relief.

The earlier deadline of June had been extended till 31 October after cable operators sought time to install STBs (which have to be imported).

"In June, you knew you have time till October. What have you done till today?" the judges said, and added that petitioners' conduct did not merit any relief.

Cable digitisation HC refuses to extend deadline in Mumbai

Representational Image. AFP

"A certain degree of inconvenience is inevitable in the enforcement of any deadline. The union ministry has taken this decision to cut off cable network (in the absence of STBs) with a view to provide quality service to consumers," Justice Chandrachud said.

The court, however, asked the union government to consider giving some relief to viewers during Diwali. "We do not want people's Diwali blacked out. Television these days has become the cheapest and basic source of entertainment for average middle class family. We are concerned about the consumers and not the operators," Justice Chandrachud said.

Earlier, judges had asked additional solicitor general Kevic Setalwad if it was possible to grant extension of one month. Setalwad opposed the idea, saying that cable operators had failed to comply with the notification between June and now, despite importing over 80,000 STBs.

Senior counsel V A Thorat, for the petitioners, sought a stay to the notification saying that Madras High Court, which heard similar petition, had stayed it for a week.

Thorat further argued that union government was being supported by the lobby of DTH (Direct to Home) operators. "Households where cable providers are unable to provide STBs will obviously get them from these DTH operators," he said.

According to the petitioners, several cable operators were having problem complying with the deadline. "We have imported 60,000 STBs so far and another 20,000 are in the process of being imported. It will take time to install these STBs in individual households," the petition stated, seeking another four months' time.

But the court held that union government had provided sufficient time for compliance. The petition was dismissed.

PTI

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