KOLKATA: It is their fight for staying relevant and thwart looming extinction due to digitisation. More than 2,000 local cable operators (LCOs) from Kolkata have joined forces to keep the last mile in their control.
The LCOs, under the banner of Joint Forum of Cable Operators’ Association (JFCOA), have decided to mobilise support and start billing their customers themselves, instead of their multi-system operators (MSOs) doing it.
The LCOs also want to start paying service tax themselves to the government authorities.
“We will conduct several meetings among operators across the city to mobilise support ,” said JFCOA convener Swapan Chowdhury.
JFCOA has decided to put pressure on MSOs to make the necessary provisions in their systems to enable billing from the cable operators’ end.
“(This has been decided) in order to restrain MSOs’ ill intention to eradicate LCOs from the business,” said Chowdhury, after a conference which also attended by representatives of MSOs Meghbela Broadband Services and GTPL-KCBPL.
With the implementation of digitisation of cable TV services in Phase I and Phase II, the MSOs have been made responsible for sending of bills to cable TV consumers.
Indiantelevision.com had last month reported that Kolkata’s LCOs have come together to form the JFCOA in a bid to articulate their problems to MSOs and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
The conference today discussed issues the LCOs have about billing, interconnect agreement, and the ratio of revenue sharing between LCOs and MSOs with the implementation of digitised delivery of television channels to television households.
A member of the Cable Operators’ Sangram Committee said the LCOs have requested MSOs not to interrupt cable operators’ services till the various issues raised by them are resolved.
The LCO suggested that there should be an interconnection agreement between the MSO and the LCOs to conduct business in the DAS regime. “In spite of a business relationship and business transactions between the two of them, no interconnect agreement has been followed till now, which is a violation of the law,” he said.
Another LCO pointed out that MSOs were not executing the agreement with LCOs even though DAS had been implemented since February last year. “DAS agreement with cable operators should be completed by MSOs with immediate effect...” he demanded.
Sujit Das, MD of AMBC, an MSO, said his company could not participate in the conference, but would still talk to affiliated LCOs and discuss issues raised via the forum.