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LCOs list grievances for new government to address

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NEW DELHI: Hurt by the manner in which they have been forced to adapt to digital access systems without proper safeguards for their minimum incomes, organisations of cable television operators have sought a review of digitisation and action against the people involved in creating large media monopolies from all the political parties.

 In a letter sent to all the main political parties in the fray for the forthcoming general elections, the National Cable and Telecommunication Association (NCTA) and Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI) on behalf of 60,000 local cable operators have listed certain demands that should be considered by all the political parties.

 They have sought extension of the cable TV digitisation process by allowing analogue transmission of about basic 30 to 36 TV channels including all Doordarshan services. This step is for avoiding any black-outs.

The government should also instruct the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to ensure a level playing field for all the stake holders in the distribution value chain with a prescribed revenue share arrangement on non discriminatory terms. ?It should also fix reasonable and affordable prices for the Pay TV channels and ensure that the advertisement cap for the pay TV channels should be lowered to maximum six minutes in an hour,? said the letter.

 The letter also highlighted the issue of the 10+2 advertisement cap regulation for FTA (free to air) channels. ?It must be made mandatory,? the letter stated.

Apart from this, there were also demands like finalising strict guidelines on cross media holdings and checking monopoly in the cable TV industry. ?The Government should implement phase III and phase IV of digitisation only if there is adequate supply of Indian Set Top Boxes (STB), and the industry should get a subsidy on the excise and VAT till digitisation is achieved 100 per cent in the country.?

 The government should abolish entertainment tax levied by the various state governments and TV viewing should be termed as an essential information service.

The memorandum have been sent to major political parties and leaders like Narendra Modi of BJP, Rahul Gandhi of Congress and Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Aadmi.

According to NCTA president Vikki Choudhary and COFI president Roop Sharma, the new Union government should conduct an enquiry on the implementation of mandatory digitisation of cable TV.

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