Trai to address cable ops complaints against b'casters' 2nd bouquet push

MUMBAI: Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is looking into the complaints of cable operators against broadcasters forcibly pushing their second bouquet of channels.

"We have received a large number of complaints and are aware of these problems. We haven't overlooked these issues.But if cable operators can provide proof that broadcasters threaten to withdraw the first bouquet if the second is not taken, it will strengthen our hands," Trai advisor AK Bhatnagar said today at an interactive session with the cable operators while attending the 14th edition of the cable television tradeshow SCaT India 2005 in Mumbai.

Referring to the demand by cable operators for dismantling of bouquets, Scat promoter Sudeep Malhotra said Trai chairman Pradip Baijal had remarked on Tuesday at the exhibition that the regulator was looking into the issue.

Cable operators also raised the issue of broadcasters entering into minimum guarantee (MG) deals with a multi system operator (MSO) or a rival network to create a monopoly for a particular territory. "This is not authorised," clarified Trai joint advisor Rajesh Gupta who was also present at the interactive session. 

Why doesn't Trai force broadcasters to publicise the MRP (maximum retail price) rate of their channels in newspapers so that it will make subscribers aware of the cost structure?

"This will be of no use and transparency can come only with conditional access system (CAS). The total cost of the pay channels comes to Rs 450 a month. The broadcasters and the cable operators know this. This is the industry accepted by everyone," said Bhatnagar.

Cable operators also wanted to know what the regulator could do on issues where broadcasters were forcing them to sign blank documents and they were not given copies of the commercial agreements. "We have just received one application from the cable operators," said Bhatnagar, adding that the agreements could be given to the concerned operators if they so wanted.

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