Govt awaits apex court’s verdict to enforce digital TV broadcasting

Kathmandu, February 7

Switching the country’s analogue television broadcasting system to digital has been affected after a case had been filed against this plan of the government at the Supreme Court.

While a majority of cable television service providers have developed infrastructure to switch to the digital broadcasting system, few that have failed to do so have filed a case against the plan to digitise television broadcasting in Nepal, according to Sangita Ojha, deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC).

As the case is subjudice, MoIC is unable to enforce the new digital system in television broadcasting until the Supreme Court issues the final verdict.

Earlier, the government had decided to make it mandatory for analogue cable television viewers to switch to the digital system from November 15. However, MoIC had given cable operators until mid-December to switch to the new system citing that its implementation ahead of the parliamentary and provincial elections could prevent millions of people from watching television and get up-to-date information about the poll results.

However, MoIC could not implement its plan even after the extended deadline as the case related to digitising television broadcasting is subjudice at the apex court.

“MoIC is ready to implement the digital cable broadcasting system. However, we are obliged to wait for the verdict of the Supreme Court on this issue,” said Ojha.

The Supreme Court’s hearing on this case has been scheduled for February 14.

Under the 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 TV 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 TV sets through a single cable.

Meanwhile, though cable service providers have been welcoming the government’s plan to digitise cable TV broadcasting, they have also been urging gradual implementation of the system citing that the process of digitising television broadcasting is more related to cable TV subscribers than service providers.

“Cable subscribers have been gradually switching to the new digital system, with almost 30 per cent switching to digital broadcasting so far. In this context, enforcing digital cable television system abruptly will prohibit a large number of cable subscribers from viewing television channels,” said an official of Federation of Nepal Cable Television Association (FNCTA).

As per FNCTA, there are over 3.2 million cable subscribers in the country.