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DAS: No. of MSOs rises to 877, one permanent licensee made provisional

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NEW DELHI: Even as the total number of multi-system operators has risen to 877 including 647 getting provisional licences as the country approaches the deadline for the final phase of the digital addressable system, the number of permanent licensees (up to ten years) has fallen by one to 230.

Star Broadband Services (India) Pvt Ltd, which earlier had a permanent licence for distributing signals in Delhi, has now been given a provisional licence on its application for pan India distribution. Thus, the number of MSOs has risen by 37 since the last list of 29 April had put the number at 840.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry had cancelled the licences of 26 MSOs and closed their cases by 12 January. Ministry sources told indiantelevision.com that the latest reduction in the permanent list could not be deemed as a cancellation since the MSO had come on the provisional list.

According to the latest list, the area of operation of two MSOs has been revised after 29 April. Unlike the last list, two MSOs - Whitefield Communication and Star Broadband Services - have been given pan-India licences. The new registrations include the states of, or specific districts in, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhatisgarh, Punjab, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh.

In an indication of the emphasis on reaching signals in border areas, three MSOs in Jammu and Kashmir and one in Tripura have also received provisional licences since the last list.

With the Home ministry directive about doing away with security clearances for MSOs not being communicated in writing to the MIB, the pace remains slow.

The permanent licence issued to Kal Cable of Chennai had been cancelled on 20 August 2014, but this cancellation was set aside by Madras High Court on 5 September the same year. However, Kal Cable’s name continues to be in the cancelled list – presumably because the cases are still pending.

Sources said that denial of security clearance was not the only reason for provisional licences and said many MSOs holding provisional licences had not completed certain formalities relating to shareholders and so on.

Hathway CCN Entertainment (India) Pvt. Ltd which is a joint venture with Hathway and Siti Cable is among the new recipients, for Chhatisgarh. Hathway CCN recently set up a digital headend to offer a wide array of digital services and channels. The MSO is offering 48 HD channels for its digital cable TV subscribers in the state. Siti’s newly acquired company Bargachh Digital Communication, in which it has 51 percent stake, has also received registration for six districts of Andhra Pradesh.

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