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Trai recommendations on new channels stump pay broadcasters

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MUMBAI: Broadcasters are weighing the impact of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's recommendations. Of foremost concern is the suggestion that pay channels launched after December 26, 2003, should not be allowed to become part of the bouquet.



Says Star India chief executive officer Peter Mukerjea,"We may have to dismantle the current bouquet and start new packages. Creating new clusters is a possibility. How can the bundle size be so huge? We can have a certain size and number of channels in it. But we have to study carefully on what the full implications are."



Sony Entertainment Television India chief executive officer Kunal Dasgupta was positive about Trai's recommendation to have new pay channels available through set-top boxes (STBs). "It makes sense because we are reaching the limit of channel capacity. It is better to leave the bundle as it is and have new channels through STBs. That is the only way conditional access system (CAS) can be brought in," he says.



Multi system operators (MSOs) may not have felt that they had their interests totally protected, but see positive directions in the Trai recommendations. Says Hathway Cable & Datacom chief executive officer K Jayaraman, "TRAPs for the existing pay channels is a good idea and a welcome step to move eventually towards CAS."



Broadcasters were not so convinced about TRAPS. Says Mukerjea, "It is a backward step. Contrast this to telecom where there are so many forward suggestions and the industry is moving towards convergence. The media business can attract foreign direct investments. TRAPS is not the right solution."



Agrees Dasgupta: "It can encourage piracy."



Commenting on the Trai recommendations,Hinduja TMT's Ashok Manshukhani said: "It is exhaustive and forward looking and merits serious consideration by the government."

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