Soni meets LCOs to discuss on digitisation deadline

NEW DELHI: Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni met local cable operators today to seek their opinions on digitisation deadline in the four metros.

The LCOs said that Soni has asked them to move the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) about their revenue share of Rs 45 in the basic service tier of Rs 100 with the MSOs, if they were unhappy about it.

The cable operators further stated that Soni had assured them that Additional Secretary Rajiv Takru, who is the Ministry‘s representative to Trai, would also accompany any delegation that decided to meet the regulator on this issue.

Around 15 local cable operators, who had demonstrated outside Shastri Bhavan on 15 June against the low share in the BST, had been called by the Minister for a discussion today.

A S Kohli, who led the delegation of the LCOs from West Delhi, told that while not giving any direct indication, Soni sought their opinion on the period of deferment of digitisation which is scheduled for 1 July in the four metros.

Soni did not agree with some of the operators who wanted a deferment of up to one year, but indicated that a lesser period could be considered.

The LCOs said that Rs 45 was too small an amount since they had to interact with the consumer and not the multi-system operators (MSOs).

The LCOs told Soni that their fee prior to digitisation has been Rs 82 on the basic service tier under CAS and, therefore, it cannot be reduced below that level.

The LCOs also complained about the poor quality of the STBs in the market.

In the memorandum submitted to her office on 15 June, the LCOs had also said that none of the MSOs have declared the pay channel rates or packages, but the government still wants them to force subscribers to buy STBs. Consumers do not know what they will get in the digital regime and at what price. It has become difficult for the LCOs to answer inquiries from consumers.

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