Deadline extended till month end to switchover to digital TV

Some residents in periphery areas like Chantagang, Hongtsho, Yusipang, Chamgang, Dodeyna, and Kabesa are yet to switch over to digital TV

The Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) extended the deadline for residents in Thimphu Thromde who have not switched from analogue to digital Television (TV) to do so by May 31.

The Chief of BICMA’s Market and Competition Division, Wangay Dorji, said this is the final time extension that has been considered following requests from cable subscribers.

He added that the authority has conducted intensive advocacy programs on the benefits of digital TV in Thimphu and some residents in periphery areas like Chantagang, Hongtsho, Yusipang, Chamgang, Dodeyna, and Kabesa are yet to switch over to digital TV.

Sharing the issues on the switchover, Wangay Dorji said people were concerned on the affordability of the set top box and digital TV signals subject to unfavorable weather conditions. However, with the operation of Multi-Service Operators (MSO), he said the current TV signal using DTH would be altered, thus giving strong signal that is not affected during unfavorable weather conditions.

According to him, MSO is a centralized body of the cable operators and is mandated to provide content to the cable operators. It is to operate by June.

“The distribution of cable TV system in the country is not balanced. With MSO, distribution would be made even,” Wangay Dorji said.

He added that they would be able to maintain standard TV channels and consumers would be protected from poor TV connectivity.

On the affordability, Wangay Dorji said the government would look into giving the set top box at subsidized rate to genuine consumers.

Although the DTH service in the country is illegal, he said, the government has not taken action since some parts of Bhutan have no access to cable TV and that it would deprive people from their right of access to information.

However, Wangay Dorji said that when the switchover is completed the authority would do away with the analogue TV.

Meanwhile, the initiative is part of BICMA’s mandate in facilitating and supporting technology innovation as well as to ensure that cable television viewers get improved picture and sound quality (High Definition programmes), according to the Information, Communications and Media Act of Bhutan 2018.

The switchover from analogue to digital has been planned to be carried out in a phase manner, starting from Thimphu and to other Dzongkhags.

Meanwhile, BICMA had earlier announced January 1 as the date for people in Thimphu Thromde to switch over from analogue to digital TV in a bid to improve quality services related to TV, and also help in regulation and monitoring of such system in the country, besides promoting digitalization. It was reasoned then that the switch was made to encourage technology enhancement, provide better customer services, and ensure accountability.

However, the deadline was later extended by a month to February 1 on the request of the information and communications ministry.

Meanwhile, there are three licensed cable operators in Thimphu – Etho Metho, Drukcom, and Norling and there are about 83 cable operators in the country.

Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu