Entailing an expected investment of up to Rs40,000 crore, digitisation across the country will be completed by 2014 year-end after which the government would earn Rs30,000 crore each year on various accounts, including subscription
New Delhi: Digitisation of TV signals, which will give consumers much broader choice of channels at low price, will start in four metros from June next year, reports PTI.
Entailing an expected investment of up to Rs40,000 crore, digitisation across the country will be completed by 2014 year-end after which the government would earn Rs30,000 crore each year on various accounts, including subscription.
“It is generally a very big reform of the broadcasting industry,” information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni told PTI in an interview.
She said the entire process of digitisation, that is to be implemented in phases, will be completed by 31 December 2014.
In the first step, the digitisation will be conducted in four metro cities by 1st June next year, two months after the target date set for it in a proposal approved by the Cabinet.
Explaining this delay, she said there was a provision for giving a six-month notice (after Cabinet decision). “So we are having to change it from 31st March, which was the time the metros had to (do), to 1st June. But it doesn’t disturb the rest of the schedule,” the minister said.
The current analog cable system offers consumers no choice of channels they can select. Generally, a single rate is charged from customers and the package is mostly of 80-90 channels.
Digital platforms will carry more channels and offer better quality. Digital cables have the capacity to carry up to 1,000 channels.
The move is expected to benefit broadcasters also as it will remove the need for paying carriage fee to cable operators, bringing down the cost of operations.
At present, carriage and placement fee contribute nearly 20% of the total cost of running a channel.
After digitisation, all satellite channels will be beamed to houses through set-top boxes.
“Earlier it was that the cable operators, those who had analog system, were not always onboard,” Ms Soni said, adding that it was “not an addressable system” as the government was losing out on revenue.
The I&B minister said digitisation would lead to an “addressable system” and that digital signals can be routed through cable operators who would have to go for the maximum investment of Rs3 lakh each for it. “They have welcomed it,” she added.
“It is also a step in favour of government. In the analog system, it was very difficult to tabulate government loses out on revenue,” she said.
By undertaking digitisation, the government expects to mop up revenues to the tune of Rs30,000 crore approximately per year, she said, adding that it would be on account of fees, subscription, etc.
The government has got Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on board and both are working together, she said.
On the financial implications, she said the process could involve investments between Rs20,000 crore to Rs40,000 crore and the issue has been referred to the Committee of Secretaries for sorting out.
“I think this would mean an investment obviously and people who have to do the investment were waiting for us to announce this policy,” Ms Soni said.
The I&B minister explained that some financial implications, which could be called incentives, could not be a part of a Cabinet note. “So, the Cabinet took a decision that all those issues would be looked at by a Committee of Secretaries headed by the cabinet secretary,” she said.
The committee, which also includes revenue secretary, IT secretary and I&B secretary, will give its considered view within a month.
When pointed out that the finance ministry had been hesitant in funding the project, Ms Soni said, “They are right.
The incentive type of suggestion should not really form part of the Cabinet note. So those have been put before a CoS under the cabinet secretary. They will discuss that and give the answers.”
The help that had been sought from the finance ministry was in the form of exemption of tariffs.
Ms Soni did not elaborate but sources said the ministry, in its proposal, had said all entities involved in digitisation be considered infrastructure service providers, and tax concessions be accorded to them till complete digitisation is done.
The I&B ministry had suggested measures like waiving the 5% duty on set-top boxes that would have to be imported and installed by the consumers.
The government has been thinking of raising funds through the buyback route as it has not been able to raise money through sale of equity in public sector units on account of uncertainty in the stock markets
New Delhi: The Disinvestment Department has prepared a list of cash-rich public sector undertakings (PSUs) which can buy back government equity and help it meet the ambitious Rs40,000 crore disinvestment target during the current fiscal, reports PTI.
The government has been thinking of raising funds through the buyback route as it has not been able to raise money through sale of equity in public sector units on account of uncertainty in the stock markets.
“The government is open to raise funds through the buyback route as part of the disinvestment exercise. We are thinking of innovative ways to meet the target,” a disinvestment ministry official told PTI.
Under the buyback mode, the government can raise money by selling its equity in the company to the concerned PSU itself.
The official said about two dozen PSUs have large surplus cash balance like SAIL, NMDC, ONGC, NTPC, Coal India, Oil India and MMTC.
Such companies may be asked to buy back about 5% equity from the shareholders. Under the current regulations, market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) allows companies to buy back their own equity from shareholders.
The official said the government is yet to decide on whether to adopt the auction route for stake sale in PSUs.
With only Rs1,145 crore in its kitty so far from disinvestment, there are apprehensions whether the mammoth target of Rs40,000 crore for this fiscal would be met.
Volatile stock market conditions have forced government to delay stake sale in PSUs. Global equity markets have been on a downside on fears of a slow recovery in the Eurozone economies as well as the debt crisis in US.
In view of uncertain market conditions, companies like SAIL and Hindustan Copper (HCL) have deferred fresh equity issue, though the government may still go ahead with its proposal to offload stake.
Last fiscal, the government raised Rs22,763 crore through sale of equity in public sector enterprises.
All-India State Bank Officers Federation general secretary GD Nadaf claimed that the management has agreed to their demand for adequate compensation to officers working on holidays. It has also given assurances on issues related to transfers and promotion of staff to officer cadre, he added
New Delhi: The officers’ union of State Bank of India (SBI) has called off a two-day nation-wide strike that was to begin on 8th November after the management conceded to some of their demands, a development that comes as a relief to over 14 crore customers of the bank.
“The strike has been deferred as understanding on certain issues has been reached with the management,” All-India State Bank Officers Federation (AISBOF) general secretary GD Nadaf told PTI.
Keeping in mind the convenience of customers and reputation of the bank, the union decided to defer the two-day countrywide strike, he said, adding that dialogue with the management is still ongoing with respect to the remaining issues.
Mr Nadaf claimed that the management has agreed to their demand for adequate compensation to officers working on holidays. The management has also given assurances on issues related to transfers and promotion of staff to officer cadre, he said.
The nation’s largest lender, which has over 13.60 crore customers, has about 13,560 branches spread across the country.
On Saturday, SBI chairman Pratip Chaudhuri had appealed to the union to withdraw the proposed strike.
“We expect and hope that the strike will be called off. We have not estimated our losses on account of the strike yet.
More than the loss of money, it will damage the confidence of our customers,” he had said.
Had the strike not called off, customers of the bank would have faced an outage of branch services for five days, beginning Sunday.
While Monday and Thursday are public holidays, banking operations would have been hit on Tuesday and Wednesday due to the strike called by the union.