Cable TV

Govt directs cable ops to furnish TV channel details

NEW DELHI: With an eye on future media regulations, the government has asked MSOs and cable operators to furnish the details of TV channels they re-transmit on their networks, including local cable-delivered video channels.

In a letter to MSOs and to Cable Operators' Federation of India, dated 26 June 2006, the information and broadcasting ministry has said that the government is developing a centralised data bank of all TV channels, including video channels, for monitoring purpose and, hence details would be needed for the same.

This step has been taken, explained a ministry official, to effectively monitor even local video channels run by cable operators where news, along with entertainment, form part of the programming line up.

The detail sought by the government is over and above the registration process of TV channels initiated under the downlinking guidelines where all satellite channels would have to obtain landing rights from designated authorities.

On last count, 65-odd TV channels had applied for landing rights in a country that boasted of over 300 channels being accessible to subscribers of cable TV and DTH.

Some cable operators, however, feel that the latest initiative would increase paperwork and is an attempt by the government to crack down on local video channels, which also air music videos some of that have run into problems with the authorities when aired on music channels.

The government official played down the directive to MSOs and cable ops, saying it was a "routine matter."

In a draft broadcast bill, the government has proposed that all cable operators would have to register themselves with the government and/or the regulatory body to run cable networks and adhere to certain other criteria.

Presently, a person just needs to register with the local post office to start a cable network after paying a nominal amount of money wherein things like quality of service and after sales service to subscribers are not given much importance.

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