The analogue TV signal was not shut down as decided on January 1.

This is because Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) on December 31 decided to extend the deadline for the switch by a month on the request of the information and communications ministry.

BICMA’s directive on December 31 stated that the switch should be implemented on February 1. The authority had earlier decided to shutdown analogue TV signals to facilitate the switch to digital TV.

It was first announced to the media around September last year that the switch was made to encourage technology enhancement, provide better customer services, and ensure accountability.

Managing director of Drukcom Private Limited, Sherab Lhamo, said that the  BICMA had issued a directive on June 7 declaring that the analogue switchover for Thimphu Thromde should complete by December 31. “It was after a consultation meeting with the stakeholders [cable operators of Thimphu] during which all agreed to comply with the directive to go 100 percent digital. It also needs to follow the digital standard of using a conditional access system.”

However, she said that the extension of one month was granted to Etho Metho and Norling cable operators, which provided an advantage over Drukcom. “It made us believe that the implementation of the directive was weak as it was not followed even though six month’s time was given to complete the digitisation.”

She said Drukcom hoped that the new deadline would be strictly followed and no further extension was provided.

Association of Bhutanese Cable Operators (ABCO) had earlier requested BICMA to extend the deadline by six months. The association had also gone to the ministry with their request for time extension.

General secretary of ABCO, Sherub Gyeltshen, said that the deadline was extended. “It was because the parliament sessions had begun and it was important for people to not miss the sessions. It was also extended because ABCO requested the ministry.”

He said that although the switch was not possible in one month, they would try to install set top boxes. “We would try for further time extension and approach relevant authorities in the future.”

Rinchen Zangmo