Tewari to meet LCOs on Wed over revenue sharing under DAS

NEW DELHI: Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Manish Tewari will meet a delegation of Delhi-based local cable operators (LCOs) on Wednesday to hear their complaints with regard to the ‘unreasonable‘ revenue sharing under the digital addressable system (DAS).

The minister agreed to meet the LCOs after around 300 LCOs from different parts of Delhi forced their way into the venue of the Broadcast Engineering Services (India) Expo this morning and shouted slogans against Tewari and I&B secretary Uday Kumar Varma, who was also present.

Tewari was heckled as he attempted to leave the venue after his inaugural address at the three-day conference. The minister then asked the LCOs to meet him in a delegation at his office Wednesday morning.

A S Kohli, a leading cable operator and part of the protesting LCOs, told that he expected around 1,000 LCOs from all parts of Delhi to gather on Wednesday.

Cable Operators Federation of India President Roop Sharma who will also meet the Minister tomorrow told that it was unfortunate that the pleas of the LCOs for a more rational share in the tariff, and the recent blackout in parts of East and North East Delhi had failed to make the government react.

She said that consumers who wanted both pay and free-to-air channels under DAS regime would have to pay anything between Rs 250 to Rs 300 or even more against amounts ranging between Rs 80 to Rs 150 that they have been paying under analogue.

LCOs in Delhi have been complaining against the revenue sharing between LCOs and MSOs. LCOs from east and north-east Delhi recently resorted to a day‘s blackout of cable TV to draw the government‘s attention to the revenue sharing formula, which they claim is unfair for the LCOs.

Another LCO Ashok Pandit said several representations have been made to both the ministry and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) about how the revenue sharing under DAS was unworkable. The revenue sharing ratio is 55:45 between MSOs and LCOs in the basic service tier of Rs 100 for 100 free-to-air (FTA) channels, and of 65:35 in a mix of pay and FTA channels.

He pointed out that even the MSOs had admitted that it was the LCO who did the entire work of fitting the connections or climbing electricity poles to lay the cable TV wire, and added that it was, therefore, wrong to deprive the LCO of his rightful share. Furthermore, he said many subscribers in east Delhi were paying as low as Rs 75 despite the fact that some of them had more than one TV set in their homes, and would therefore refuse to pay more.

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