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Cable operators demand a 10 year licence for better operations

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MUMBAI: If the entire digitisation process has affected any of the related bodies the most, it is the local cable operators (LCOs), who are unsure about their future completely. Keeping this in mind, the Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI) has written to the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minster Manish Tewari requesting him to give the LCOs a 10 year licence so that they can work on various expansion plans.

The letter was sent to the minister on 18 December. However, the association still awaits a response.

What is notable is that when COFI earlier met the minister on 29 October along with the Cable Operator Association of Gujarat and Rajkot, member of parliament, Mohan Bavaliya requesting for a 10 year licence for the LCOs, Tewari had accepted the proposal, but there was no development on the issue thereafter.

In the absence of a response, the association has resorted to sending a reminder letter to Tewari.  

“You had assured us that the licensing for registered cable operators will be for 10 years at par with the multi-system operators (MSOs) and direct-to-home (DTH) operators and that ‘registration’ for LCOs in post offices will cease,” writes COFI in the letter.

The move, according to the association president Roop Sharma, will help cable operators show more interest in upgradation of technology and expanding business. “When the MSOs and DTH players have been given 10 year licence citing security of business as a reason, why should the LCOs not be given such a security,” she says.

While the MSOs and DTH operators are given the licence by the I&B Ministry, “the LCOs are the only distributers of content without a licence and have registration in post offices for more than 20 years”, states the letter.

MSOs currently have to pay Rs one lakh for a 10 year licence. “The LCOs are anyway paying Rs 1000 to the post office for one year registration. So why not charge them for a 10 year licence? At least this will guarantee them security,” informs Sharma.

In fact, the LCOs have become more certain about attaining a 10-year license because as per the new DAS rules, the LCO has to seek permission from the MSO for renewal of the yearly post office registration. Though the association hasn’t received any response to the letter, Sharma says, “We will soon meet the minister again.”

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