BICMA ex­tends a month for dig­i­tal switchover

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The Min­is­ter of In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Karma Don­nen Wangdi said that the date­line for the dig­i­tal switchover has been ex­tended for a month, the min­is­ter was re­spond­ing to Bomdel­ing Jamkhar, Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment ( MP) query on the ques­tions and an­swer ses­sion in the Na­tional As­sem­bly last Fri­day.

Bomdel­ing Jamkhar, MP, Dupthob asked that there are con­fu­sions and con­cerns among the gen­eral pub­lic re­gard­ing dig­i­ti­za­tion of tele­vi­sion that is switch­ing from ana­log to dig­i­tal sys­tem where con­sumers are af­fected by the sud­den change He also asked on the poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions to re­solve this is­sue.

On De­cem­ber 31, Bhutan In­fo­comm and Me­dia Au­thor­ity ( BICMA) is­sued a no­tice ex­tend­ing the date­line for im­ple­men­ta­tion of dig­i­tal cable tele­vi­sion switchover to 1st of Feb 2019 as re­quested by Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

” There­fore, you are directed to im­ple­ment the dig­i­tal switch over by Fe­bru­ary 1, 2019 without fail,” it states.

Ear­lier, BICMA pro­vided six months du­ra­tion to cable op­er­a­tors to ad­vo­cate and ed­u­cate their sub­scribers on the process of switch­ing from ana­logue to dig­i­tal ser­vice un­til De­cem­ber 31.

More­over, as per the pro­vi­sion of the In­for­ma­tion, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Me­dia Act of Bhutan 2018, it states that to fa­cil­i­tate and sup­port tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion as well as to en­sure that cable tele­vi­sion view­ers gets im­proved pic­ture and sound qual­ity ( High Def­i­ni­tion pro­grammes).

In ad­di­tion, Dupthob said that Thim­phu has about 40,000 users who watch Tele­vi­sion ( TV), how­ever, only 10,000 have opted for the digi- tal sys­tem as of now. He also shared his con­cern that BICMA is­sued no­tice that if users are not able to switch over to dig­i­tal sys­tem by De­cem­ber 31, the TV cable con­nec­tion lines would be cut-off.

He said that although dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion is ben­e­fi­cial for ser­vice providers, users and gov­ern­ment how­ever, du­ra­tion of six months was not ad­e­quate for the shift and also lacks ad­vo­cacy and aware­ness to the pub­lic. He said if pub­lic are de­prived from watch­ing TV, it would be against the con­sti­tu­tion.

Re­spond­ing to this, Min­is­ter of In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, said that the switchover from ana­log to dig­i­tal is not a new tech­nol­ogy, how­ever, the work be­gan three years back since 2016 and ad­e­quate ad­vo­cacy and aware­ness was car­ried out.

Speak­ing on the ben­e­fits of the dig­i­tal sys­tem, Ly­onpo said that with the dig­i­tal sys­tem, the peo­ple would equally en­joy TV con­tent across the coun­try.

He also added that In­dia had made their change to­wards dig­i­tal sys­tem and Bangladesh with ‘Dig­i­tal Bangladesh’ project, gov­ern­ment is putting huge ef­forts for the trans­for­ma­tion.

Ly­onpo also said that it will also boost our lo­cal con­tent in terms of broad­cast­ing Bhutanese films, re­al­ity shows, so­cial pro­grams and, in­for­ma­tion an­nounce­ment and ad­ver­tise­ment. He also added that in con­sul­ta­tion with BICMA, the dead­line has been ex­tended for a month.

Bomdel­ing Jamkhar MP also suggested that with the dig­i­ti­za­tion, fiber op­tic is nec­es­sary for high def­i­ni­tion res­o­lu­tion. ” If the users can­not af­ford a High Def­i­ni­tion TV with in­vest­ing on set top box, it is like forc­ing peo­ple,” he added.

Ly­onpo re­sponded that min­istry is con­cerned and there in on­go­ing dis­cus­sion with the var­i­ous stake­hold­ers.

Ear­lier, Project Man­ager of Etho Metho Cable Tele­vi­son, Pema Tshe­wang said that com­pany is in full ca­pa­bil­ity and tech­no­log­i­cally sound to carry out the trans­for­ma­tion given the date­line.

How­ever, he said it will also de­pend on the will­ing­ness of the cus­tomer to take the shift. He also said that de­pend­ing on the ser­vices pro­vided cus­tomers can opt among three op­er­a­tors.

The dig­i­tal cable tele­vi­sion tran­si­tion will be car­ried out in a phase man­ner, be­gin­ing from Thim­phu to other Dzongkhags.

The three li­cenced ser­vice providers of the cable op­er­a­tors are Etho Metho cable ser­vice, Druk­com pvt. ltd., and Nor­ling cable ser­vice has al­ready started the switchover June this year. Ac­cord­ing to BICMA, there are about 83 cable op­er­a­tors in the coun­try.

MP Dupthob

MoIC Min­is­ter Karma Don­nen Wangdi

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