Stage set for a court battle on DAS in Bengaluru

MUMBAI: A battle royale is set to take place in the Karnataka High Court tomorrow. On the one hand are national and Karnataka‘s multi system operators (MSOs). And on the other side is the Karnataka Cable TV Operators Association (KCTVOA). The former are are all set to challenge the petition filed by the latter seeking extension of DAS (digital addressable system) in Bengaluru.

Putting up a united front, the MSOs led by Hathway Cable & Datacom, InCable, Den Networks, Siti Cable and Atria Convergence Technologies will request the High Court to dismiss the writ petition filed by the KCTVOA.

The MSOs have been made respondents to the petition filed by KCTVOA president V S Patrick Raju. The MSOs are expected to file their responses when the case comes up for hearing before the court tomorrow.

Hathway Cable & Datacom MD and CEO Jagdish Kumar asserted that the MSOs will request the HC to strike down the KCTVOA‘s writ petition seeking extension of digitisation deadline.

Kumar feels that there is no need for a stay on DAS in Bangalore as almost 75 per cent of the television households have already been seeded with STBs. The MSOs, he said, are equipped to seed STBs in the remaining 25 per cent homes.

The Karnataka HC had had on 31 March extended DAS in Bengaluru till 5 April on a petition filed by Raju. The KCTVOA had requested the HC to postpone digitisation in Karnataka‘s capital city as there was no clarity on the set top boxes (STBs).

Raju says that he had filed a RTI request with the nodal officer in Bengaluru 10 days ago, seeking information on the extent of set top box seeding in the city, but he had not got a response as yet. He says that the entire digitisation process will result in cable TV operators becoming a bill collector and the revenue share of 65:35 in favour of the MSO is not acceptable at all. "We have invested so much in our cable TV networks and by collecting Rs 1,400 for a set top box, the MSO will get our subscriber who is asking us for bills for the set top box, for warranty for mobility to other areas of the city," he says. "Also the MSOs have not given us a rate card for the channels that they want us to carry."

The sunset date for phase II of digitisation covering 38 cities was 31 March however the Information & Broadcasting ministry on 2 April allowed a 15 day grace period to the industry to allow smooth transition from analogue to digital cable.

The HC is also expected to hear tomorrow a petition filed by Mysore Cable TV Operators Association seeking extension in Mysore due to shortage of STBs.

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