Hong Kong – CASBAA’s annual India Forum, held on March 7 in New Delhi, attracted a host of government and industry professionals weighing in on the multichannel TV market in India.

“The timing for this year’s CASBAA India Forum 2013 could not have been better with the Phase II digitisation deadline looming at the end of the month,” said Christopher Slaughter, CEO, CASBAA.

During his opening keynote, Uday Kumar Varma, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, said they have achieved over 56 per cent digitisation on average in Phase II cities and that, between MSOs and DTH operators, 9 million set top boxes have been installed. He also noted – in relation to the recent increase in customs duties on STBs — that the government was keen on encouraging indigenous production of boxes so that India would not have to depend on countries like Korea and China and the boxes would be BIS compliant.

However, elsewhere during the Forum, Supriya Sahu, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, noted the difficulties that still remain in the on-going digitisation process: “Our biggest challenge is how to convince different stakeholders to understand that their profit margins will decrease but only for a short while. It was difficult to get the different aggregators to sign the agreement last time, and it is happening this time as well. This was one of the reasons that deadline was extended during Phase I.”