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
Jio & Hathway continue to lead wireless and wired Internet subs growth in 2018

India witnessed 1.74 percent growth in broadband internet customers in the month of April 2018 (Apr-18, month under review) according Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) data for the month ended 30 April 2018. Hence, 71.90 lakh (7.19 million, 0.719 crore) broadband subscribers were added...

Cable TV Local Cable Operators
Hathway ropes in Sitendu Nagchaudhuri as new CFO

Leading cable operator Hathway Cable and Datacom Ltd has appointed Sitendu Nagchaudhuri as the new chief financial officer (CFO). The fellow chartered accountant’s experience in the field of corporate finance, commercial and strategy leadership spans over 27 years.

Cable TV Multi System Operators
Sony to bring Pictures, TV division under one roof

Sony Pictures TV is set to merge international TV operations to bring its television networks, home entertainment and distribution businesses together. This shuffle may lead to some job cuts, with many senior executives from Sony having already departed.

Cable TV Multi System Operators
DEN Network fixed-line b’band biz plan hinges on partnerships & leveraging present infra

MUMBAI: With telcos handing out data at cheap rates in various package sizes under innovative schemes, mobile data consumption has increased rapidly in India in the last few years, while the growth of fixed-line broadband (FLBB) users has been tepid, if not completely static. MSO DEN Networks now...

Cable TV Multi System Operators
DEN aims to convert 10% of SD subscribers to HD in a year

DEN Networks CEO SN Sharma has set a target of converting 10 per cent of its standard definition (SD) subscribers to high definition (HD) within a year.

Cable TV Multi System Operators
GTPL Hathway appoints Viren Thakkar as new chief financial officer

GTPL Hathway , one of the major players in the Indian cable TV and broadband industry, has appointed Viren Thakkar as chief financial officer of the company. The appointment ,which will come into effect from 2nd July, was posted on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) website.

Cable TV People
Hathway plans to seed 2.5 lakh high definition set top boxes in FY19

Going along the lines of FY18, broadband and cable TV service provider Hathway Cable and Datacom is planning a Capex of Rs 310 crore in FY19. In addition to that, it plans to seed 2.5 lakh high definition (HD) set top boxes (STB) in FY19. The company had 2.16 lakh HD subscribers at the end of...

Cable TV Multi System Operators
Jayanta Pani Resigns as CFO of GTPL Hathway

Jayanta Pani chief financial officer (CFO) of GTPL Hathway has decided to part ways with the company. Pani's last working day at GTPL, where he joined in November 2008, will be 30th June.

Cable TV People
VITEC and ATX join hands for distribution of IPTV content

VITEC, a worldwide leader in advanced video encoding and streaming solutions, and ATX Networks, a technology leader of optical and media access platforms, has announced a strategic partnership to provide a fully secure architecture for distribution of IPTV content throughout the enterprise network...

Cable TV Multi System Operators

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories