CODA aspires to take control of all LMO-MSO issues

MUMBAI: The last mile operators in Mumbai have decided to make sure that they get their pound of flesh from the broadcasters and the multi-system operators (MSOs). These cable operators plan to make the CODA (Cable Operators and Distributors Association) the single, most powerful association of cable operators in the country. Backing them will be the might of the political party and BJP-alliance partner Shiv Sena.

While speaking to the team, CODA president and Shiv Sena Vibhag Pramukh Anil Parab confirms: "Mumbai's cable fraternity is united under the CODA banner. Other associations in Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai are also in talks with us."

Refuting allegations that the CODA is against any one MSO in particular, Parab adds: "We are not targeting any MSO in particular - all of them are in the same bracket as far as we are concerned. If they don't look after our interests, CODA will react. CODA might have its own infrastructure in place. Financers are ready to fund us - some have already approached us but we are yet to take a decision. Even if it happens, a separate CODA division will be formed and will comprise professionals from the industry."

Parab also adds that future cable TV rate hikes will have to be routed through the CODA in the near future. "But, we shall not allow rate hikes because they affect cable operator-consumer relationships; lead to quarrels." 

The CODA will also take up other issues such as the oft-repeated issue of giving an industry status to the last mile operators - who find it difficult to get loans from banks and financial institutions. "I have spoken to the officials of the prime minister's office and the finance ministry officials about according an industry status to the cable and satellite industry. This will be a part of the new initiatives that CODA will plan," Parab adds.

Talking about the issue of control of the cable distribution system, Parab offers: "There has to be stricter controls over unwanted and unnecessary propagation - for instance CODA has opposed airing Pakistan's PTV. Similarly, we shall strive to retain the power (at amongst the cable operators) to blank out harmful foreign propaganda that could be aired on news channels promoted by foreigners. Also, there is a need to reiterate and re-emphasise Indianness and Indian values."

When asked about the future course of action, Parab says: "The ball is in the government's court. All we have seen are half-hearted attempts by the ministry. The government has to forcefully make its stand clear. But, it shouldn't discriminate between the local cable operators and the foreign channels by having two separate rules/yardsticks for both," emphasises Parab.

Well, CAS is on from 1 September in Mumbai but only on paper. In fact, a leading afternoon tabloid paper carried a cartoon that showed Sena's working president Uddhav Thackeray carrying set top boxes (instead of Ganesha idols) to immerse them in the sea. Today, incidentally, is the last day of Ganesh Chathurti and thousands of Ganesha idols will be immersed in the sea.

As they say, tomorrow - as the latest CAS extension given to Mumbai cable operators comes to end - is another day!

Also read:

CODA will become the single, most powerful national association of cable operators in the country: Anil Parab

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