MSOs invite broadcasters to create consensual bouquets, avoid legal battles

NEW DELHI: Multi System Operators (MSOs) have initiated moves to open dialogue with broadcasters so that the non-Cas area Tariff Order can be implemented with rates worked out through mutual discussions, rather than the MSOs doing it unilaterally, leading to litigation.

Broadcasters however, say they have not decided on any course of action, only hoping, seriously, that the order would be retracted sooner or later.

Senior MSO Alliance leaders told that they have started talks with broadcasters on the issue since the middle of this week.

MSOs argue that since Trai is not likely to retract or modify what is now commonly known as the ‘a la carte order,‘ and since TDSAT has insisted broadcasters not impede its implementation, the Order will come into effect from 31 December.

The MSO Alliance says that after 31 December, they shall not be able to charge subscribers more than the prices capped by Trai right across the country. Therefore, the question arises: ‘Who will fix the channel prices and the prices for bouquets?‘

They say they are telling broadcasters that it is better that the latter come forward to work together and create bouquets area/region-wise, giving those channels in each area which best suits the demographic and economic pattern of the residents,

Says an MSO Alliance source, "After 31 December, we shall have to do it ourselves if they do not come forward and work these out, because we shall not be able to charge a penny more than what Trai has prescribed for each area.

"In that case, we shall have to work out bouquets which we feel are the best for each area, depending on their language and financial patterns, like more Gujarati channels in the bouquets for areas in Mumbai with Gujarati domination, more regional channels for other areas and so forth."

Broadcasters seem unsure as of now about their course of action.

One could be moving the High Court to ask TDSAT to take a definite stand on their stay order plea, but senior broadcaster sources said that is not a good option.

The decision from broadcasters, since the efforts are being made, at very senior levels, will be clear after the Christmas holidays, with just five days to go for the implementation of the Order.

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