If you want to watch satellite channels on television, you have to install a digital set top box by March 31. Afroza Khatun, a resident of Dayaganj in the capital, contacted a local cable operator on Friday (February 04) after hearing the news. He was informed that the price of a set top box is Tk 4,000. He is worried as the price is so high. Many low-income people are just as worried like Afroza. They have expressed reluctance to buy set top boxes with so much money.
Afroza Khatun says, “I would buy a top box if it costs Tk 1,000 to Tk 2,000. It is not possible for low-income people to buy set top boxes at such a high price. Cable operators do business, so they have to provide this box for free.”
She further said, “We are currently under increasing pressure as prices of essential commodities go up. I will not collect digital set top box with money. If the operators give it free, I will watch TV, otherwise I will not use it.”
Abdur Razzak, a resident of Rayerbag in the capital, said, “How many people can afford to buy a digital set top box with Tk 4,000? Cable operators should provide the box for free. It is not possible for ordinary people to buy this box. I will not buy it with money.”
When asked some cable operators in Jatrabari, Dayaganj and Rayerbag areas of the capital said, “Subscribers are not interested in buying set top boxes. On February 1, subscribers were instructed to install digital set top boxes. But they do not want to buy the box with Tk 4,000. It is also not possible for the operators to provide it for free. If subscribers do not buy the set top box and if there is pressure from the government, then the business has to be stopped.”
Mozammel Hossain, a cable operator in Rayerbag, said, “There is a crisis of digital set top boxes all over the world including Bangladesh. It will take two to three months to import the set top boxes. We have to give more time for this.”
According to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, there are about four crore cable TV subscribers in Bangladesh. The government is working to digitize the television service sector and ensure the use of set top boxes for revenue collection.
Anwar Parvez, president of the Cable Operators Association of Bangladesh (COAB), said, “There are about 50 lakh subscribers in Dhaka and Chattogram. It will take seven to eight months to bring so many subscribers under the service. After the expiration of the deadline, the government will take action accordingly considering the situation. About 5 lakh set top boxes have been installed in the country so far.”
He added, “Subscribers have to pick up the set top box from where they got the cable connection. The cable operators will have to collect it from COAB. Nobody can purchase it from any place other than this. Around 95 percent of the set top boxes are imported from China.”
Muhammad Omar Farooq, Senior Vice President, Bengal Communications, said, “We are providing the service to our subscribers with digital set top boxes. About 90 percent of subscribers have set top boxes under direct connection. These subscribers are mainly from Uttara, Dhanmondi, Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara.”
Syed Mosharraf Ali, Managing Director, United Communications Services (UCS), said, “By reducing the channel step by step under dish line serivce, all subscribers will buy the digital top box at once. The subscribers must buy it when there will be no alternative.”
Khadiza Begum, Additional Secretary (Broadcasting), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, said, “The government is digitizing all sectors. If the cable TV service is brought under digitalization, the subcribers will also get better service. There will also be an opportunity to increase the revenue of the government and the revenue of the television channels.”
“When a system will turn into digitalized from analog, viewers must have to come under the system. It’s not a matter of coercion,” she said.