Broadcasters moot Rs 25 as FTA package price at CAS meet

NEW DELHI: It was back to the slang match ways for broadcasters and cable operators yesterday at the meeting of the task force on conditional access systems. The suggestion from the broadcasters that the monthly subscription fee for the basic tier of channels should be Rs 25 drew a heated response from the cable fraternity.

ESPN Software India MD Manu Sawhney, who spoke on behalf of the broadcasters at the meeting chaired by I&B ministry joint secretary Rakesh Mohan, set the cat among the pigeons with his remarks on what should be the pricing for free to air (FTA) channel package.

Furious cable operators, meanwhile, retorted that they would accept such a pricing if brodcasters were will to drop their base rate for ad spots to Rs 20.

The acrimonious meeting, which went on for over three hours, also witnessed some grandstanding by the cable fraternity who threatened to go on strike if the FTA pricing was not kept in the Rs 150 range. Mohan, however, said that a finance ministry report on what the FTA price should be had suggested Rs 40 to Rs 50 as being reasonable. That fits in with the information available with indiantelevision (and reported earlier) that a Rs 70 to Rs 80 range for the FTA price was what the government was thinking of adopting. It needs noting here that the government is proposing a Rs 30 per subscriber flat service tax which is how the total adds up to that mentioned above.

Mohan, however, accepted a plea by the cable ops to revisit the issue and examine it again.

Await more details in a report that follows soon...

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