MUMBAI: Local cable operators (LCOs) feel threatened with compulsory digitisation of cable TV services. LCOs own the end subscribers, but do not have the bargaining power with broadcasters and also access to funding.
This has led to an increasing trend towards LCO consolidation, if not through the mergers and acquisitions route then through formation of associations and unions, especially in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka, states the FICCI-KPMG media and entertainment industry report 2014.
Now, nearly 220 of the about 250 LCOs in Jaipur, Rajasthan have decided to come together to protect their business. The LCOs are looking at forming a cooperative and setting up their own headend.
The move comes as many LCOs are unhappy with the monopoly of the multi-system operators with the progressing digitisation.
“It is at a nascent stage, but we are tired of the MSO monopoly here in Jaipur and hence looking at setting up a cooperative and converting into an independent MSO,” says a cable operator from Jaipur who is currently taking feeds from Hathway Cable & Datacom.
The cooperative has been set up under the banner Jaipur Cable Operators Welfare Society. The LCOs are meeting regularly to finalise details.
While the initial investments will be made by the LCOs, they will also approach banks for loans to meet the investment demands. “We are unhappy with the way things are moving in the state. Neither the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India nor the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is ready to listen to us. And so we have decided to take this move,” says the LCO.
As of now, four lakh set top boxes have been seeded in the state. “The Jaipur cable operators are in talks with us as they are looking at setting up a cooperative. We will be meeting in April in Mumbai to discuss further,” informs Maharashtra Cable Operators Federation (MCOF) president Arvind Prabhoo.
It is not only in Jaipur that the LCOs are coming together to form cooperatives. While earlier such cooperatives were set up in Chennai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata, now LCOs are coming together in Mumbai, Jaipur, Jodhpur and parts of Madhya Pradesh to set up their own headends.