March 31st was the deadline made by the government to install set-top boxes (STBs) to avail cable services. People who failed to install were left out with TV block-out now. No matter how harsh it is, the government is enforcing the norm to use set-top boxes. Though, many of us are not very clear on this issue, we are making it a point to buy STBs.
If you are one of those not aware of why your TV needs a set-top-box, this article answers your queries.
An STB converts analogue cable signals to digital ones. This digitisation enables consumers to watch large number of channels with better viewing experience. Channels will be transmitted with better picture quality and sound similar to DTH transmissions.
As a typical cable TV user, we can get these benefits only by installing an STB. To put it simply, we can get the DTH experience at cable TV cost.
Now, let us consider the motive of government to implement mandatory migration to digital cable TV and who the actual beneficiaries are.
First, by digitised cable TV, the concerned departments are able to identify the number of households using cable services, for which there are no reliable statistics or official records, until now. Only the cable operators know the exact number.
Second, according to telecom regulatory body, TRAI, the revenues generated through cable services should be shared among the three parties- broadcasters, multi-system operators (MSOs) and local cable operators (LCOs) in the ratio of 45:30:25. As analogue systems do not enable the authorities to trace the number of users, cable operators are not declaring the actual number and are not giving a fair share to the other two parties. But, with digitisation, every household using cable TV will be accounted, which forces cable operators to accurately share earnings. This brings transparency in their operations.
It’s good for government in terms of tax collections as all the cable TV users will be recorded. Remember, we pay tax on cable TV to government as entertainment tax.
By and large, it is more beneficial to service providers from the broadcasters to MSOs and the LCOs than to consumers. You, however, have to shell out some money on get the set-top-box to get cable TV.
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