Cable TV

LCOs to get unique TRAI number to ensure fair deals, says advisor Gupta

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NEW DELHI: Despite claims of major achievements in all parts of the country in digital addressable system, a meet held recently in Chandigarh presented a dismal picture with many local cable operators complaining that the switching off of analogue had badly affected their business.

In the seminar organised by the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal, even Tribunal chairman Justice Shiva Kirti Singh said the operators should approach the government for solutions.

Information and broadcasting ministry joint secretary (broadcasting) Manoj Kumar Pingua talked about the achievements of digitisation and referred to the transparency leading to greater tax collections by the centre as well as state governments.

The seminar, on ‘Digitisation: Achievements Issues and the Way Forward’, was attended by the judges of different courts, lawyers, multi-system operators broadcasters and LCOs.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India principal advisor S K Gupta said there was a plan to issue a unique number to each LCO and keep a track of his Interconnection Agreements to ensure he gets a fair deal.

One LCO from the Chamba in Himachal Pradesh said that he had lost all his business because broadcasters had switched off analogue signals and multisystem operators were not prepared to supply him digital signals.

Another LCO from Punjab said his investments of Rs seven million in a HITS headend and STBs have gone waste as Jain HITS has closed its business. The government has made no policy to compensate cable operators in such conditions. He said that HITS was not working in the present circumstances as broadcasters create hurdles in providing content.

Earlier, Zee HITS had also closed down. Now only NeXT Digital of Hindujas is operating but he said LCOs were losing faith in the technology.

Another LCO said MSOs were not giving signed copy of the Interconnection Agreement to LCOs and exploited them every now and then by raising subscriptions. He said there is no security in the business, and since all regulations are challenged in the courts, even the regulator is unable to help.

While GST had been cleared and Cable and DTH services will attract 18% tax and STBs and other digital equipment will be taxed at 28%, the speakers said they were worried about the negative impact of GST on the business as neither ‘Make in India’ will succeed nor the dream of a ‘Digital India’ will be fulfilled.

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