KOLKATA: It’s their fight for survival. Local cable operators (LOC) from Kolkata are now up in arms against the regulation that requires them to obtain no-objection certificates (NOCs) from multi-system operators (MSOs) to be able to get their licences renewed.
It’s not just the billing, inter-connect agreements or revenue sharing issues that is of concern to the LCOs. The requirement of having to obtain NOCs from MSOs for their annual licences is another issue they are preparing to fight against.
LCOs across the country now come under an amended rule which states that LCOs have to take NOCs from their respective MSOs for renewal of their annual licence from the Post and Telegraph department, which, the LCOs feel, makes their survival at the mercy of the MSOs.
Swapan Chowdhury, convener of the Joint Forum of Cable Operators’ Association (JFCOA), said earlier the LCOs, the last mile operators, had to apply to the government for renewal of their licences but now have to take NOCs from private companies, the MSOs. “It shall be difficult for the LCOs to exist and operate,” he argued.
“The forum will raise its objection with TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Auhtority of India) and shall (also) challenge the merit of such an amendment in the appropriate court of law shortly,” Chowdhury said.
“This mandatory digitisation has adversely affected our livelihood and has proved detrimental to our interests. If TRAI wants the LCOs to be wiped out from the cable TV industry business, it is fine but asking us to get NOCs from MSOs is not a fair idea at all,” said an LCO from the Cable Operators Sangram Committee.
The LCOs are also against the practice of having to renew licences every year. They want the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to issue LCOs licences for 10 years.
“The LCOs are registered with post offices for 1 year whereas the MSOs get the licenses for 10 years from the ministry. This is making LCO business uncertain,” Chowdhury rued.
Kolkata-based MSOs when contacted said they would adhere to the rules and regulations prescribed by the authorities and ensure that digitisation of cable TV happens smoothly.