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Digital Cable TV mandatory from today

Cable operators say only 20 percent of cable subscribers have switched to digital

Kathmandu, November 15, 2017: Analogue cable television viewers are mandatorily required to switch to digital system from today.

The Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) informed that efforts will be made to strictly implement the earlier plan of the government to digitize country’s television broadcasting system from Wednesday.

“We had given enough time to cable service providers and the customers to migrate to the digital television system as it is a gradual process. However, the government will now monitor cable service providers from Wednesday to check whether or not the cable viewers have switched to digital format or not,” The Himalayan Times quotes Prem Kumar Shrestha, acting secretary of MoIC, as saying. As per Shrestha, the government will initiate action against cable operators not digitising television broadcasting.

Earlier, the government had adopted the policy to digitize television broadcasting in line with the 2017 deadline set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for its member countries to go digital.

As per the government requirement, cable television operators will have to completely switch to the digital broadcasting format in Kathmandu Metropolitan, sub-metropolitans and metropolitans in the first phase. The government has set mid-May deadline for cable TV operators in rural municipalities to adopt digital system.

Under this digital system of cable TV broadcasting, customers are required to connect set-top boxes to their television sets, which will enable them to view clear and high definition television channels. As one set-top box will allow channel broadcasting for only one television, the digital cable TV broadcasting will discourage channel viewing in multiple televisions through a single cable.

MoIC officials believe that digitizing the cable TV broadcasting will also aid the government in identifying the actual number of cable service users in the country. As multiple television sets are run via single cable line at present, the government does not have authentic number of cable service users in the country.

It is estimated that there are over 3.2 million cable subscribers in the country.

Meanwhile, cable service providers have said that only 20 per cent of cable subscribers have switched to the digital broadcasting so far.

“We have been appealing to customers to adopt the digital cable broadcasting system as soon as possible. However, customers are still in the wait-and-see mode,” said Sudhir Parajuli, president of the Federation of Nepal Cable Television Association.

As per him, cable operators have been constantly reducing the number of TV channels to those customers who are yet to switch to digital system in a bid to force them to connect set-top boxes to their TV sets.

“We are currently giving only 35 channels to those customers who have not switched to digital system and have said to the government that will reduce five channels to such customers every week. However, the government should not direct cable operators to stop all channels to such customers at once as this will adversely affect more than 80 per cent of cable subscribers in the country,” added Parajuli.