Government opposed to fixing DTH channel prices

NEW DELHI: The Government says it is opposed to fixing the prices of the channels for direct-to-home television but is hopeful that market forces would bring down the prices with an increase in the number of service providers.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said in Parliament yesterday that "regulation of pricing for DTH services is likely to be interpreted to mean that the new entrant DTH operators are asymmetrically regulated against the incumbent mode of delivery which has dominant market share".


He said in reply to another question that the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had stated in an order on 31 March that price fixation for DTH should be done by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) as soon as possible and reiterated that till then, its order of June last year that the broadcaster will charge the DTH operator 50 per cent of its listed price for cable platform should be continued. The question of whether a distributor could pick and choose what he wanted to beam should be decided on a case-to-case basis, TDSAT said.

The minister, in answer to another question, said that over 500,000 set top boxes had been installed in the three metros of Delhi (210,000), Mumbai (240,000) and Kolkata (60,000), out of the 1.5 million estimated cable households in the notified areas of these metros. He said this also indicated a conscious decision by other households who preferred to opt for watching free-to-air channels through their cable networks, take DTH, or subscribe to DD Direct.

In reply to a question in the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament), he said that the conditional access system (Cas) was in any case mandated in notified areas, which ‘is in a very limited part of the country’ and cable TV operators in the rest of the country are not mandated to introduce any addressable system.

Dasmunsi said that having an option of choosing between cable and DTH had led to healthy competition and led to consumer friendly packages, apart from improving the service.

DTH had also benefited rural areas and other interior and remote areas where either no service was available or only Doordarshan had terrestrial reach.

The minister said it was not felt necessary for the government to keep any record of DTH viewers. He said the government had not received any reports of Cas service providers misleading the people.

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