BICMA extends a month for digital switchover
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.
MoIC Minister Karma Donnen Wangdi