Television

Casbaa's concerns relating to the clauses and provisions in the Cable Television Networks (regulation) Amendment Bill 2002

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If the Central Government is satisfied that it is necessary in the public interest so to do, it may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify one or more free-to-air channels to be included in the package of channels forming basic service tier and any or more such channels may be specified, in the notification, genre-wise for providing a programme mix of entertainment, information, education and such other programmes.

The Task force said that the composition of the basic tier should be left to market forces (clause J). It has mandated only must- carry provisions for Doordarshan. Instead the Government has assumed the power to specify any channel not only the public broadcaster. This would amount to directing the choice of the viewers and their right to free access to information would be infringed.

4 A.3 

The Central Government may specify in the notification referred to in sub-section (2), the number of free-to-air channels to be included in the package of channels forming basic service tier for the purposes of that sub-section and different numbers may be specified for different States, cities, towns or areas, as the case may be.

The Task force did not recommend control of the number of channels at all. This will reduce freedom of choice. Vide section 16(2) the contravention of section 4A shall be a cognizable offence under this section.

4 A.6

Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, programmes of basic service tier shall be receivable by any subscriber on the receiver set of a type existing immediately before the commencement of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2002 without any addressable system attached with such receiver set in any manner.

The effect of this clause will be that cable operators will invest in expensive analogue equipment at the head end, which will become redundant soon .

In addition consumers will invest in analogue boxes which are easy to tamper with.

4 A.8 

The cable operator shall not require any subscriber to have a receiver set of a particular type to receive signals of cable television network:

Provided that the subscriber shall use an addressable system to be attached to his receiver set for receiving programmes transmitted on pay channel.

Without a set top box with the technical capability to monitor the use of different channels, proper metering is not possible and use of many boxes may be necessary to monitor the usage of different channels. 

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