Regulators

Subscription rates in DAS phase III & IV expected to be half of that in first two phases

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NEW DELHI: The subscription revenue from phase III and IV areas of Digital Addressable System (DAS) is expected to be between 20 to 30 per cent as compared to 70 to 80 per cent from phase I and phase II areas.

Therefore, channel pricing in phase I and II areas need to be decided for areas under phase III and phase IV so that multi-system operators can plan operation in these areas.

This was stated during the fifth Task Force meeting on phase III and IV held recently under the chairmanship of Information and Broadcasting Ministry additional secretary J S Mathur and attended among others by DAS adviser Yogendra Pal.

Pal informed the meeting that while the centre had sought from all states and union territories (UT) the district wise data of urban areas to be covered in phase III with number of households, only Chhatisgarh and Uttar Pradesh had responded.

Similarly, only around 15 states and UTs had responded to the query about nodal officers, both at State level and district level.

Only Gujarat had responded to the query about nomination of one LCO association from each State and UT for the LCO sub-group.

The states of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are still to respond to the query about nomination of a local cable operator association to the Task Force.

Mathur directed that copies of the letters written to State Governments in this regard may be provided to the nodal officers present in the meeting to expedite the pending nominations/data.

Referring to procurement plans and stock of Set Top Boxes (STB) requirements of phase III, the MSOs said they had limited inventory of STBs. Procurement of STBs is taking place according to earlier orders and no new orders have been placed by the national MSOs either with foreign suppliers or indigenous STB companies.

The MSOs stated that they are making arrangements for finances for procurement of STBs for phase III. The position with regard to availability of funds would be clear by the end of February.

At the outset, Mathur said digitisation in phase I and II has been possible due to active cooperation and support of State Governments.

A Representative of Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association stated that they had called a meeting with MSOs in December 2014 but the response was not good. None of the major MSOs attended this meeting. He mentioned that indigenous STB manufacturers are ready to discuss all issues with MSOs anywhere and anytime.

Mathur advised the MSOs to have a meeting with indigenous STB manufacturers to sort out all the issues. He said the Ministry was also planning to hold a meeting with the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) on the demand of long-term financing.

When MSOs raised the difficulty of signing agreements with broadcasters, a representative of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) stated that broadcasters cannot deny signal to MSOs once they are DAS compliant. He suggested MSOs should make a formal written request to the broadcasters for the signal according to the regulations. He added that broadcasters should enter into agreements with MSOs for distribution of content without waiting for the cutoff date.

A representative of a consumer forum stated that computerized billing was not happening in phase I and II areas. He added that CAF forms should be filled before installation of an STB.

For publicising the extension in date for applying for MSO registration for operation in phase III areas, it was suggested that broadcasters run a scroll on their channels. It was also suggested that MSOs download a video spot made by the Ministry and play it on their local channels.

The MSO representatives were told to share the data of existing MSOs operating in analogue regime with the Ministry. The representative of ASSOCHAM wanted that the broadcasters should be apprised for the same.

Regarding publicity campaign, Joint Secretary (Broadcasting) R Jaya said all stakeholders must contribute in spreading awareness about ongoing digitisation in the country. She suggested MSOs should run audio visual ads on their local channels. She also suggested spreading awareness through handbill or printed ads on monthly bills issued by LCOs to the consumers. She called upon broadcasters to plan publicity campaign on their channels.

FICCI, Cll and ASSOCHAM were asked to draw up a plan for workshops for public awareness campaign.

Mathur re-emphasized the need to mount an awareness campaign by all stakeholders particularly the broadcasters. He also asked all the MSOs to begin discussions with indigenous STB manufacturers to meet the deadlines of phase III of December 2015 and phase IV of December 2016.

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