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Cable fees for August unlikely to come down

NEW DELHI: The honeymoon is over even before the foreplay if officials from India's Information and Broadcasting ministry are to be believed.

In the absence of any written agreement amongst the various stakeholders of the industry, the monthly cable subscription fee is unlikely to come down to around Rs 100 from the present level during the transition phase of conditional access rollout or the honeymoon period, contrary to what was being said earlier.

Admitting very much to such a scenario, an Information and Broadcasting ministry official said today, "Since there is no written agreement on reduced rates (from 1 August), it's assumed people would pay what they are paying now."

Sometime back when the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had to step in to sort out the knotty issue of CAS implementation, it was being said - even alluded to by I & B minister Ravi Shankar Prasad then - that from 1 September, CAS would be rolled out in the South zones of the four metros of Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. In the interim, the government had pointed out that from 1 August, all cable homes in the four metros would pay the basic tier rate for the service including pay channels till the time addressability was successfully rolled out in all the four zones of the metros. The reason being given for this was that the broadcasters would not charge subscription money from the cable fraternity.

The dispute arose when broadcasters said they would waive the subscription revenue only for the month of August and that too if the cable operators cleared all pending dues by July-end. The cable operators have not acted on this front, it seems, while the government had earlier insisted the honeymoon period would last till December, the period for completing the rollout.

"There were some conditions that the broadcasters had put forward that don't seem to be happening," the official said.

Both the broadcasters and the cable fraternity had their own points of view. While the former insisted it would take a hit amounting to millions of rupees by waiving subscription money during the honeymoon period, the cable operators too claimed that they would be financially hit by giving the service at such rock bottom price.

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