High Court stays on proposal to auction cable TV licence

MUMBAI: Haryana cable operators and cable operators all over the country must be heaving a sigh of relief.

The Chandigarh High Court today granted a stay on a proposal by the Haryana government to auction cable TV in the state.

A consortium of cable operators had taken the Haryana government to court seeking redressal following a notice issued by it calling for applicants for auction of cable TV licences for three years in the state.
Says Cable Operators Federation of India president Roop Sharma (who lobbied with the government on behalf of the consortium),"The notice was sent out by the Haryana government in August and we got to know of it only in November and since then we have been representing to MIB minister Ambika Soni, Haryana CM Bhupinder Hooda, Navin Jindal and urban minister Shailaja. A cable operator in Hansi (a small town in Haryana) was sent an order to take down his cables – which was signaling that the government was meaning business. With this letter in hand we pleaded with the court , and the court granted a stay."

Sharma says that close to 1000 independent cable operators have built the cable TV infrastructure in the state over the past two decades and leaving them out of the auctioning process would have been killing for more than 200,000 people employed in the cable TV trade in Haryana. Additionally, cable TV is a central subject and no state has the right to auction licences unless it is mandated by the central government to do so. 
For those in cable TV trade, it is a victory for the sector. For other players who have been waiting for some order to come into cable TV it is a blow. “If auctioning of cable TV is a central subject, it’s about time the government in New Delhi draws up a plan to license nationally,” says a private equity fund manager. “Hundreds of millions of dollars will flow into cable TV if the central government regularizes this sector.”

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