Cable TV

Rane diktat: MSOs see STBs as answer

MUMBAI: Maharashtra revenue minister Narayan Rane is threatening to take action against cable operators who underreport their subscriber figures. The way out: a survey to expose the actual cable TV subscribers in Mumbai or even a hike in entertainment tax.



Rane may have good reason to do so, although detractors point this out as an action aimed at Shiv Sena, the party from where he launched his political career but left recently amidst stiff rivalry with supremo Bal Thackeray's son Uddhav.

Mumbai including Thane city and Navi Mumbai have around 3,000 cable operators servicing approximately 3 million homes. The declaration of cable connections, according to government officials, is 500,000. The state government charges Rs 30 a subscriber. "The cable operators have been cheating the government for a long time. The time has come to act. The state government is generating about Rs 800 million through entertainment tax from cable operators. And I am sure that with the alternate system, the revenue would go up at least four times," Rane told one of the leading newspapers in Mumbai.

The alternate system Rane is hinting at is direct-to-home (DTH) service. The cable industry, however, rejects this as an unrealistic option. The multi system operators (MSOs), in fact, see the introduction of set-top boxes (STBs) as the answer to all the evils of underreporting.



"Let the government mandate STBs for pay-TV viewing. That will take care of gross under-declarations. The government will have a transparent system and entertainment tax collections will augment," says the head of a leading MSO in Mumbai.

Local cable operators, however, are worried about Rane's possible drive at forcing operators to increase declarations. "If the government seriously clamps down on operators, subscribers will have to pay higher cable TV prices. The current rates are possible because underreporting is factored in. The monthly rates could shoot up to Rs 500," says Federation of Cable Operators Association president Ravi Singh.

A worse implication could be if the government decides to hike entertainment tax for cable operators. "This would be unfair as those who have a higher declaration of their actual connections will have to suffer more," says Singh.

Singh, however, is willing to discuss the issue of underreporting with Rane and the state government. His association, along with CODA (Cable Operators and Distributors Association), is planning to meet Rane. "We will seek an appointment with Rane We can discuss what kind of cooperation we can extend to sort out the issue," says Singh.

CODA president Anil Parab believes action can follow only after Rane has made his proposals clear. "We do not know what his proposals are and how he is planning to increase the declarations. It is only then that we will decide on what action to take," he says.

A section of the industry has welcomed Rane's drive to increase declarations. "If the government succeeds, it will be best for the industry. The broadcasters, though, will gain the most," says Jagjit Kohli, a veteran in the cable TV industry.

A survey of the actual connections of the cable operators, however, is an uphill task. Earlier governments have also lacked political will to head for a transparency system. The idea of hiring a private bidder to take charge of declarations has also been toyed with but without success. "That wouldn't have been a good system as other elements would have come into play. Many in the industry would have felt that the private bidder wouldn't be fair as it would be in his interest to extract the maximum profit. If the government does this on its own, it will be a different ball game. The government, however, has to figure out how it can get this survey done and how it can be implemented," says Kohli.

Latest Reads
Competition regulator okays Goldman Sachs stake purchase in Den Networks

Investment banking major Goldman Sachs has received the Competition Commission's approval to increase its stake in Den Networks to over 24 per cent by acquiring additional shares through preferential allotment route.

Cable TV Multi System Operators
DAS petitions challenging constitutional provisions listed for 3 November

With the division bench taking cognisance of several cases relating the digital addressable system (DAS) Phase III which challenge constitutional provisions, the Delhi High Court will hear the DAS cases on 3 November, 2016

Cable TV DAS
MSOs finally cross 1000 as pan-India DAS deadline nears

With less than three months to go for the deadline of the final phase which will complete cable digitlization all over the country, the total number of multi-system operators has finally crossed 1000 with 774 getting provisional licences till 30 September 2016.

Cable TV Multi System Operators
Several DAS III petitions may be transferred to Division Bench of Delhi High Court

NEW DELHI: The Digital Addressable System (DAS) Phase III legal wrangle is moving on, albeit slowly and steadily.  Lawyers appearing on behalf of the multi-system cable TV operators (MSO) will inform a single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court about a large volume of cases relating to DAS III...

Cable TV DAS
Going a la carte with Star and Indiacast has helped: Bibhu Prasad Rath

Bhibu Rath heads one of the small regional cable TV players in the TV distribution business: Ortel Communications. The MSO began as a local player in the state of Odisha. But, it has since spread into neighboring states such as Chattishgarh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In fact, it...

Cable TV Multi System Operators
Bihar govt trebles cable TV entertainment tax to Rs 50

Even as the government is working on subsuming entertainment and other incidental taxes into a goods and service tax (GST) which would be around 18 per cent, cable TV subscribers in Bihar are about to be delivered a blow to their wallets.

Cable TV Multi System Operators
DEN seeks Goldman Sachs investment nod from shareholders

MUMBAI: Leading Indian multisystem cable TV operator (MSO) DEN Networks –promoted by Sameer Manchanda- which got its board’s nod to issue another 1.58 crore shares at a price of Rs 90 per share to existing investor Goldman Sachs is now seeking shareholder approval for the same through an...

Cable TV Multi System Operators
NXT Digital-InCable merger gets shareholder nod; D’Silva bemoans lack of ecosystem support

MUMBAI: Hinduja Ventures Ltd’s (HVL’s) proposal to demerge its NXT Digital headend in the sky (HITS) business from its subsidiary Grant Investrade Ltd (GIL) and merge it into its cable TV MSO offshoot Indusind Media & Communications Ltd (IMCL) got the thumbs up from its shareholders at its...

Cable TV Multi System Operators
Comcast to launch wireless service using Verizon

Here is good news for all Comcast subscribers. The US cable giant’s chief executive Brian Roberts has announced the launch of a wireless service by mid-2017. It plans to create a service that would run on its 15 million WiFi hotspots and use Verizon's wireless network through a deal struck in 2011...

Cable TV Multi System Operators

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories