Installing set top boxes in each cable viewing household is a precondition for digitalisation and even a fortnight before the 30th June, it was estimated that only 30% of households had acquired STBs
New Delhi: The government has deferred the digitalisation of cable TV services in four metros by four months to 1st November, from the earlier scheduled introduction date of 1st July, reports PTI.
The decision to defer the plan for switchover from analogue to digitalised signals, which promises better TV viewing, was announced by the government on Wednesday with a warning of strict penal action if the new deadline is not met.
“The ministry of information and broadcasting has decided to modify the 30th June deadline for a complete switch over to 31st October 2012,” the I&B ministry said in a statement after the four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata were found to be grossly unprepared.
“All the TRAI regulations for Digital Addressable System will come into effect from 1st November, 2012,” the statement added.
It said that the assessment of ground realities compelled the I&B ministry to set a new deadline which would now be monitored more vigorously.
Digitalisation of the cable services in the entire country by December 2014 is one of the ambitious tasks that the I&B ministry has set for itself and the first step towards achieving this goal was its implementation in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai by 30th June.
Installing set top boxes (STBs) in each cable viewing household is a precondition for digitalisation and as per official sources even a fortnight before the 30th June, it was estimated that only 30% of households had acquired STBs.
“The seeding of STBs in cable viewing households was not satisfactory so a new deadline has been set. The state governments involved had sought an extension of six months till 31st December. However we have agreed to a postponement of deadline till 31st October and this time we plan to monitor it very strictly,” a senior official told PTI.
The ministry said that Multi System Operators (MSOs), Local Cable operators (LCOs) or other stakeholders could face action if they don’t match the new schedule.
“The Ministry of information & broadcasting will issue warning letters to those going slow on their written commitments. Needless to add that both, the I&B ministry and TRAI, will take action under the provisions of the Cable Act, wherever and whenever necessary,” the statement said.
The ministry said that it is “imperative that the modified target deadline is set with strict benchmarks to ensure that no complacency sets-in in the system and the new target date is achieved collectively by all the stakeholders.”
Officials said that the I&B ministry had the power to suspend or revoke the registration of Local cable operators (LCOs) or Multi System Operators (MSOs) if they violated one or more terms and conditions of registration which were mandatory under digitalisation.
“While the ministry has agreed to postpone the date for four metros, it also has the option of taking penal action against stakeholders who do not take the required steps to digitalise the cable services in the coming days,” a senior official said.
The Sunday morning prime time show, which aimed to raise India’s social consciousness, asks people to support the NGOs working for the various causes featured in the show. Indian are watching but not opening their fists
While advertisers may complain about TRPs and high costs, Satyamev Jayate has certainly been a small boon to NGOs who have been featured on the show. However, it once again exposes how Indians are unwilling to donate to charity. They want to gawk but not give.
A show that reached out to a massive 40 crore Indians over just five episodes, has collected a paltry Rs1.7 crore for seven NGOs so far. And half of this, or Rs85.25 lakh has come from Reliance Foundation which offered to match the sum raised through direct donations and text messages sent out by viewers during and after the show.
So in terms of making Indians ‘give’, Satyamev Jayate is a big flop, but that is the tragic truth about Indians and their current attitudes and no reflection on the show itself.
The not-for-profits who are striving to help people are certainly not complaining. For them it is a lovely, one-time gift form Aamir Khan Productions, Star TV and all its associates. But, look closer and the number confirm the perception that Indians don’t really believe in supporting and donating to social causes, despite rapidly rising prosperity. And this fact, is the biggest stumbling block to social change and powerful civil society initiatives.
Now lets look at the numbers. There were 13 NGOs on the list, but according to information we have received from Reliance Foundation, donations from them have gone only to seven. It is not clear if the others drew a blank. The Star TV spokesperson said that the show has not released any numbers as yet, but promised to revert. The NGOs listed on www.satyamevjayate.in are Unique Home for Girls, Snehalaya, Amarjyoti School, Family of Disabled, Himmat, Childline, Jagori, Safai karmachari Andolan, Humanity Hospital Trust, Muktangan, Kheti Viraasat Mission, Punjab Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad Azad Foundation.
Those who have received money so far are – Snehalaya, Childline, Unique Home for Girls, Humanity Hospital Trust, Himmat, Amarjyoti School and Family of Disabled. Snehalaya had the advantage of being featured in the first show which took social media by storm and was trending for two days. But the donations by millions of Indians who watch this giant show which aired simultaneously on Star and Doordarshan was apparently only Rs31 lakhs. Reliance Foundation matched it with another Rs31 lakhs, which makes it Rs 62 lakhs.
Remember, Snehalaya had the advantage of featuring on the first show; the contributions/ donations seem to taper off after that. Childline received Rs10.39 lakhs (double it up for Reliance’s contribution), Unique Home for Girls (Rs7.4 lakhs), Humanity Hospital Trust (Rs8.11 lakhs), Himmat (Rs14 lakhs), Amarjyoti School (Rs 6.34 lakhs) and Family of Disabled (Rs7.34 lakhs).
While all this is a sad reflection on the ‘giving’ of Indians, it is turning out to be a great bet for Reliance Foundation, which has got enormous mileage and promotional space virtually for a song. Remember, Satyamev Jayate’s title sponsor Bharti Airtel has forked out nearly Rs17-20 crore for the presenting sponsor slot, while associate sponsors Axis Bank, Reckitt Benckiser, Skoda, Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson have apparently paid Rs6-7 crore each for the 13-week show. Star TV also charges a hefty Rs8-10 lakh per 10 seconds for spot rates for Satyamev Jayate while spot rates for KBC were Rs 3.5-4 lakh per 10 seconds, reports The Economic Times. The newspaper says that advertisers are chafing at the high ad rates since TRPs haven’t matched up to expectation. As against this, Reliance Foundation has so far contributed Rs85 lakhs over five episodes and has gained huge exposure during the show. It’s a bet that paid off.
We must say that the pathetic donations or “giving” by Indians has come as big shock. Donations to the School of Disabled, Amarjyoti and Unique Home for Girls is stunningly poor. It is no wonder that Star TV is embarrassed to release donation figures. In fact, the terms of the donation say that Star India was “to announce the exact total amount of donation received per week on subsequent Friday through the show 'Asar' on Aaj Tak Channel every Friday at 8:30 pm during the Campaign Period”. But there are hardly numbers that one would want to broadcast.
The first episode of Satyamev Jayate caused such a flutter on social media that one expected the smartphones to be zapping text messages every second. Instead, it appears that people were only tweeting, not texting for a cause. If Satyamev Jayate hasn’t been the gamechanger for social change that we had expected, it is we the people who have failed.
Tourists on a tour with Cox & Kings' European Whirl lost all valuables they had kept in C&K bus as per instructions from their guide on the last day
It is widely believed that travelling abroad with a reputed tour operator ensures safety, security and fulfilment of the promises made. However, those on Cox & Kings’ (C&K) European Whirl tour found that their Roman Holiday will be memorable for the wrong reasons. In a shocking incident, passengers allege that their valuables were stolen from their hand luggage right from the bus engaged by the tour operator.
The bad news doesn’t end with being robbed. Instead of helping them file a complaint with the local authorities, they were advised to return to India and file a complaint with Cox & Kings (C&K), which denies any responsibility and points to some opaque fine print in a brochure that was given to the tourists before commencement of the tour.
Here is what happened. YN Bhattacharya, a senior banker and his family were booked on C&K's “European Whirl” tour. The 11 night-10day package cost was Rs1.28 lakh per person. On the last day, the passengers having checked out of their hotels were on the last hours of their tour at Rome, before heading for the airport. Mr Bhattacharya says, the tour manager Marina Coutino repeatedly advised all passengers to carry all valuables and items purchased in person, in backpacks or side bags, to avoid pilferage at the airport and also advised them to claim VAT refund. Accordingly, each passenger had these with them in the bus (on which they had travelled all the way from London), during their last hours of shopping and sight-seeing of the tour.
"On the way to airport, the bus was parked on the road Via Portuense outside a shopping mall and we were advised by Ms Marina Coutino to leave all the belongings in the bus and spend time in the mall till 17:00 hours. No one was allowed to stay in the bus. She also advised that no baggage would be permitted in the mall", says Mr Bhattacharya.
Everyone vacated the bus and entered the mall for lunch and shopping. After couple of hours, the tour manager contacted some of us and informed that baggage inside the bus was missing and everyone should check their belongings in the bus immediately. We immediately rushed to the bus and found that everything was missing from the bus except a hand purse, which had the travel tag on it. Even jackets worn and food packets were not spared".
According to Mr Bhattacharya, almost all the 32 members in the bus on way to airport lost their valuables and one member, Mr Chatterjee even lost his passport and air tickets and was stranded at Rome. Me and my family suffered a loss of around Rs2 lakh, apart from loss of peace and suffering mental agony with sleepless nights.
Moneylife spoke to Mr GS Kutty, who told us he lost his iPhone, laptop and a Blackberry and other valuable items worth over Rs2 lakh. We are in the process of calling others.
The tourists were in for a bigger shock on returning to India. C&K washed its hands off the entire episode. When Moneylife called C&K to ask for its comments, the spokesperson emailed us denying that its tour guide was in anyway responsible for the theft. He said, “We regret that such an unfortunate incident did take place. In the terms and conditions (Page 98) of our brochure we do mention that passengers should not leave behind any property in the coach while disembarking. The company would not be responsible or liable in case of loss of such property under any circumstances. It may be noted that the tour manager Ms Coutino assisted the passengers in filing the FIR at the local police station and a copy of which was provided to the clients".
But Mr Bhattacharya has a very different version. He alleges that the tour manager was in a hurry to take the passengers to the airport and advised them to take up the matter with Cox & Kings on reaching India. She only took them to the police station when the passengers insisted on it. His complaint says, “She (the tour guide) was compelled to take us to the nearest police station in order to lodge a First Information Report (FIR) for lost items. We were not allowed to go inside the police station but were handed over a limited ‘Questura di Roma’ form to fill in and hand over to her. We were not even given adequate time to fill up the forms for all four members. The partially filled forms were handed over to the tour manager for transferring the same to police station. Acknowledgment of only three forms were received out of the four submitted by us which was immediately brought to her notice but she declined to approach the police station to collect the remaining acknowledgement form, which she was to handover to us. This was around 17:00 hours and we were only five miles away from the airport when our flight was at 22:00 hours. This makes it evident that she had enough time to take care of documentation from the police station on the loss of valuables which were in exclusive custody of Cox & Kings, but she did not perform".
In fact, giving the brush off they have received, Mr Bhattacharya wonders whether the theft was an inside job in collusion with the driver and the guide, especially since he was not even given an insurance claim form when he asked for it at C&K’s Vashi office at Mumbai.
Specifically, he cites the following actions questionable actions on the part of the tour operator.
1. Specific advice of the tour manager to carry all the valuables and items purchased in their handbags, backpacks. This facilitated pilferage of all items collectively from inside the bus.
2. Specific advice of the tour manager to leave all valuable belongings in the bus and to vacate the bus for about five hours to go shopping. Nobody was allowed to stay back in the bus.
3. We were not allowed to keep the luggage in the locker room of the hotel as she declined to pick up the luggage later from hotel on way to airport, although it was hardly five miles away.
4. The bus was parked on the road away from the shopping mall in spite of parking space available inside the mall complex.
5. The bus was parked outside the range of security surveillance of the shopping mall, monitored by cameras and CCTVs.
6. There was no tampering on the door of the highly technologically advanced Mercedes-Benz bus, which was fitted with security door alarms. Thus, raises doubts about pilferage being an inside job.
7. The tour operator was reluctant to approach the police station for filing the FIR. After almost three hours of the theft, she could be persuaded to take us to the police station.
8. She neither allowed sufficient time to lodge the complaint nor permitted anyone to leave the bus to meet the police officials.
9. The tour operator did not hand over the complaint acknowledgement from the police station for Sayanti Bhattacharya although she had filled the complaint form.
10. Although the bus was parked outside the police station, no police personnel inspected the bus.
11. Although there was plenty of time available to file a detailed complaint (about five to six hours until flight time) she was in hurry to push us to the airport and didn’t want the travellers interacting with the local police.
12. On reaching airport, she was not traceable anymore.
The question then is, don’t tour operators get any insurance for the tours? That is a separate story. Watch this space.