The government has decided to make the installation of digital set-top boxes for TV mandatory to stream satellite channels in Dhaka and Chattogram from 1 April.
Consumers must install the set-top box at all divisional and metropolitan areas by 1 June. The devices will be implemented in districts later.
Cable TV subscribers and rights groups see this as an extra financial burden because consumers will have to buy the device and the cable operators will not provide it free.
“Consumers will not be able to watch many channels if they do not install set-top boxes by 31 March,” Information Minister Hasan Mahmud told the media on Tuesday after a meeting with TV Cable operators at the Secretariat.
He said the government has been deprived of revenue for a long time in the absence of digitisation of the cable TV connection. The government loses Tk2,000 crore every year as there is no data on the number of cable TV consumers.
“We are thinking of preparing a policy for the cable operating system. I sat with the experts and other stakeholders. We will complete it soon,” the minister said.
There is no shortage of digital set-top boxes in the country as the government has supported imports of several lakh units of the device recently, he said.
“We will do everything to make the set-top box available in the country. I have even talked to some companies who can produce it locally.”
Subscribers in neighbouring India and many other countries use set-top boxes. There are some 2 crore cable TV subscribers in Bangladesh but the number of users of set-top boxes is very low.
Burden for consumers
Golam Rahman, chairman of the Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh (CAB), told The Business Standard that subscribers, especially the general people, will face the financial burden of buying the new digital set-top box and it might create dissatisfaction among the viewers.
“Television is an essential accessory for people right now. The government should provide set-top boxes free of cost to the poor people,” he said.
Set-top boxes are not widely available in Bangladesh and these are imported mainly from China. Cable operators set up the boxes at the subscribers’ homes, or one can purchase them directly.
The price of a set-top box in Bangladesh starts from Tk2,000. TBSNEWS