LMOs sniff a benefit from TRAI entry

NEW DELHI: No sooner has a regulator for the broadcast and cable sectors been notified by the Indian government than cracks have started appearing in the fragile unity the cable fraternity had forged in the run-up to the CAS rollout in South Delhi.

Independent and last mile operators (LMOs) are now talking about making a bid to "break the monopolies" in ground distribution, especially that of big multi-system operators (MSOs) like Siti cable, Hathway and INCableNet.

Pointing out that they propose to submit a memorandum to the newly-notified regulator, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), over the next few days, an independent cable operator said today, "Now that a regulator is in place, we would raise the issue of monopoly of the big players."

The other issues likely to be with TRAI include that of cross-services restriction, choice to a consumer in choosing a cable operator and putting cap on the advertising time on pay channels.

"Whenever we have talked about cross-service restriction, the MSOs have shouted us down. But now, we will raise the issue with TRAI," another cable op said.

By cross-service restrictions, the cable ops mean that either there should be ban on broadcasters owning stakes in cable networks or there should be a cap (on the lower side) on such holding to reduce "vested interest" and preferential costing" taking place.

At the moment, two of the biggest broadcasters, Zee Telefilms and Star India, have equity stake in cable distributing companies. While Siti Cable is a subsidiary of Zee Tele, in the Rajan Raheja-controlled Hathway Datacom, Star holds 26 per cent stake. Similarly, the parent company of Sun group of channels also owns a cable network in South India. Though the Hinduja-owned 

InCableNet doesn't have any direct links with broadcasting owned by the parent company, noises have been made by the Hindujas that they have plans to launch satellite-delivered TV channels.

Asked about signs of rebellion in the ranks of the cable fraternity, a senior executive of an MSO today lamented that this "disunity" may spell doom for independent and local cable operators.

"Bahut dukh likha hain een cable operators ke taqdeer mein (fate has lot of bad news in store for these cable operators)," the MSO executive said on condition of anonymity.

A representative of another MSO sarcastically said that "unless these independent cable ops go to TRAI and advise it on how to do things," the industry would probably come to an end.

But, that the fear of big telecom companies getting into cable service is playing on the minds of big and cable ops is evident. Agreeing with's editorial under Comment and also the report filed last week on TRAI, the head of an MSO said that if the clauses of unified licence --- being discussed by TRAI and the telecom players--- are read in conjunction with the latest developments, then the picture would become clear.

"There is no doubt that it is just a matter of time before telecom companies foray into cable services, which have now been redesignated as telecom services," he added.


Meanwhile, the new regulator, which seems to have taken up its job in all earnest, on Monday added a new twist to the CAS (conditional access system) saga, saying deferring or letting the rollout continue is not within its jurisdiction.

Reiterating that it would issue a short consultation paper on CAS soon, TRAI chairman Pradip Baijal was quoted by the Press Trust of India (PTI) today as saying, ""The issue of continuing the service is not my jurisdiction".

This was in response to a question posed by the agency whether the consultation paper would tantamount to deferring CAS till the regulator finalised and issued guidelines on the issue.

In a way, Baijal was not much off the mark as the role of the regulator is recommendatory and a final decision on CAS would have to be taken by the government on recommendations made by TRAI. 

The decision on issuing a consultation paper comes amidst reports that CAS would be deferred till the general elections. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government over the past few days has been hinting that the general elections are likely to be held between March and May, though no fixed time-table has been indicated to yet.

"We will issue a short consultation paper tomorrow", Baijal told PTI after holding a series of meetings with officials concerned on the issue. But he did not give details on the focus of the paper.

Baijal, who had put consumers' interest at top of his priority after being given the new responsibility, was quoted in the agency report as saying that he would give about 15 days for the various stakeholders to revert with their responses. 

From the time CAS was sought to be rolled out in South Delhi area, after a November verdict on CAS by the Delhi high court, the issue had thrown up various confrontations between the cable industry and the consumers, represented by consumer groups.

A new case, filed by two parties, including a conglomeration of 50-odd consumer bodies in the country, is still pending a final verdict of the Delhi high court. The court had observed that till the next date of hearing on 5 April, the rollout of CAS should be monitored.

Latest Reads
US$ 4.5 bn expected from IPL rights; SC recommends accounts scrutiny

The Supreme Court on Friday froze all financial transactions between the BCCI and state cricket associations by directing the apex body not to disburse any funds till it resolves to abide by the Justice RM Lodha panel recommendations on reforms by 3 December . The top court ordered that none of...

Television TV Channels Sports
TVS Tyres is co-presenter for Asian Champions Trophy 2016

Continuing its strong connect with sports, TVS Tyres has associated with Asian Champions Trophy 2016 by becoming the co-presenter. The Asian Champions Trophy is one of the premier hockey tournaments, a much sought after annual international competition promising some great hockey action. This...

Television TV Channels Sports
Q2-17: Zee Learn declares maiden interim dividend

The board of directors of the Essel group’s education company Zee Learn Limited (ZLL) have declared a first time ever dividend of 5 percent per equity share of Re 1 each for the quarter ended 30 September 2016 (Q2-17, current quarter).

Television TV Channels Factual & Documentary
Whether BARC action can stop unethical practices?

MUMBAI: Can businesses and industries practise their art of selling fairly although they have 'Fair Practices' training during academic courses, workshops and several ISO and other certifications? There seems to be the fear of the lawman, and not the law in India. If the traffic cop is watching,...

Television TV Channels Viewership
TV Superhighway: beIN, Yaddo, AfricaXP have joined us, says Magine CEO Ambuj Goyal

CANNES; Magine has secured partnerships with four of the industry’s most exciting sports, documentary and entertainment content providers. Partnerships with beIN, the international media group and owner of MIRAMAX; Yaddo, the new documentary streaming service headed up by former head of The BBC’s...

Television TV Channels Factual & Documentary
Colors emerges strong on strength of Naagin I & II

MUMBAI: One of the top rated shows Naagin Season 2 helped Colors reach a top-ranking position.

Television TV Channels GECs
Pakistan Broadcasters Association to oppose PEMRA Indian content ban

MUMBAI: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) shocked both Pakistan and Indian broadcasters when it issued an order blanking out  all Indian content from Pakistan’s television channels on 19 October.

Television TV Channels GECs
Sony Pix to telecast 'Jurassic World' on 22 October

Sony Pix will take the viewers on a thrilling, adventurous journey with cloned dinosaurs in their Billion Dollar Premiere property. The channel plans to air Jurassic World on 22 October at 1 pm and 9 pm.

Television TV Channels English Entertainment
Sony AXN scripts deal with Pinewood; buys stake in SVOD service Hopster

Folks at Sony Pictures Television (SPT) are in a celebratory mood. Not only has it signed a six-series deal with Pinewood Television but has also acquired a minority stake in the London-based video subscription service for kids content - Hopster.

Television TV Channels English Entertainment

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories