NEW DELHI: The Government has set a deadline of 31st March 2015 for shift from analogue to digital systems, rejecting the recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for setting 31st December 2013 as the sunset hour for analogue transmission.

The Government has sent its revised proposal to TRAI for its comments before putting it up before the union cabinet for approval.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has accepted the recommendation of TRAI for completing digitization in four phases, though the deadlines have been altered.

The four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai have to shift to digital addressability by 31st March 2012  Thirty-five cities with population of more than one million such as Patna, Chandigarh, Pune and Bangalore will be covered in Phase II by 31st March 2013 

All urban areas are expected to be digitized by 30th November 2014, and the rest of the country by the sunset date of 31st March 2015.

As digitization is expected to be done through addressable digital set top boxes, there may not be need for consumers to change their television sets.

According to official sources, digital cable TV will ensure better picture quality and services, choice of channels and interactive services. The industry will benefit as the move is expected to bring greater transparency in subscriber base and reduction in carriage fees.

Cable Operators Federation of India President Roop Sharma told that the Federation has always maintained that there would be no reason for change of TV sets but this propaganda had been propagated by some vested interests. Hailing the government's decision as a step in the right direction, she said it would end allegations by broadcasters that cable operators suppressing actual subscriber base.

At the same time, she did not see the logic in delaying the digitization beyond the deadline set by TRAI.

All India Aavishkaar Dish Antennae Sangh President A K Rastogi welcomed the move saying this would bring transparency. He said the new dates set by the Ministry would give the cable operators greater time to educate the viewers towards the need to change their STBs and also the benefit of digitization. The allegations of cable operators not revealing their actual subscriber base would also disappear.

Vikki Choudhary of Home Cable Network said it was unfortunate that the Government had unnecessarily delayed its decision on the TRAI recommendations. However, he welcomed the decision as he said that

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