Cable TV

Punjab govt. vows to break cable monopoly, rules out blocking MSO Fastway

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NEW DELHI: Even though the Congress government in Punjab has made it clear it would not tolerate monopoly in information and news distribution via cable TV, the state government clarified no particular MSO company or TV channel would be targeted and action would be taken if found guilty of tax law violations.

MSO Fastway, which holds sway in Punjab resulting virtually in a monopoly, is allegedly owned and operated by close aides of former Punjab chief minister’s family --- the Badals. The decade-old MSO company also has sizable presence in neighbouring states of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Union territory of Chandigarh.

In an official statement, the present CM Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday ruled out any “censorship” (read blacklisting) of MSO Fastway and Punjabi-language TV channel PTC News or any other media organization. However, he made it clear that action would be taken against media companies if charges of tax violations are proved to be correct.

Reiterating his government’s stand of providing a level-playing field to TV channels and cable operators, and, thus, encouraging healthy competition, the chief minister ruled out “vendetta politics” against political opponents, but vowed to take action against media companies indulging in malpractices.

Earlier in April, a Punjab government official was quoted by local media outlets as saying the administration was committed to break any television or cable network monopoly in the state and that it proposes to undertake a study to explore legislating setting up of a Cable Network Authority for the purpose of implementing rules and regulations to be framed for broadcasters, MSOs and LCOs to operate in the State.

On Thursday, Singh welcomed all segments of broadcasting and media businesses to establish their presence in Punjab, reiterating that his government was committed to “ending the cable mafia”.

“Let them all come and compete for the viewers’ attention,” CM Singh said in the statement, adding that with wider choice, people would reject any channel found to be engaged in “biased dissemination of news or information”.

However, the CM warned that if any channel or network, be it PTC or Fastway, is found indulging in “illegal activities in defiance of the legal provisions”, they would be prosecuted.

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