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MSOs finally cross 1000 as pan-India DAS deadline nears

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NEW DELHI: 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.

The deadline is 31 December 2016.

The number of permanent licences (up to 10 years) remains at 229 and the total therefore is 1003 MSOs.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry today released the list of 29 MSOs whose licences have been cancelled and cases closed. In addition, there are four cases in which some high courts have stayed the cancellation orders in petitions filed by these MSOs.

Until 2 June this year, the number of cases closed was 27, and so the number has gone up by another two. In most of the other cases in the list of cancelled registrations, it is because of failure to get security clearance from the home ministry. However, there are cases of many MSOs holding provisional licences not completing certain formalities relating to shareholders and so on.

Four MSOs earlier in the cancellation list have been restored licences. They include Silverline Entertainment, Eminent Cable Networks, and Skynet Digital Services which got security clearance from the Home Ministry and Tanuku Communication Network of Andhra Pradesh which has got provisional licence.

According to the latest list up to 30 September 2016, the areas of operation of four MSOs have been revised after 30 September 2016 (three in the permanent list and one in the provisional list).

Of the new licencees, three - Radient Digitek Network Pvt. Ltd of Rajasthan, Dabang Duniya Publication Pvt. Ltd of Madhya Pradesh, and Alfa Cable of Mumbai – have got pan-India licences, though Radient is minus Rajasthan.

The other new registrations after June 2016 include the states of, or specific districts in, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Karnataka, Chhatisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh Maharashtra, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala, Telengana, Jammu and Kashmir, and Meghalaya.

With the home ministry directive about doing away with security clearances for MSOs not being communicated in writing to the MIB, the pace remains slow.

The permanent licence issued to Kal Cable of Chennai had been cancelled on 20 August 2014, but this cancellation was set aside by Madras High Court on 5 September the same year. However, Kal Cable’s name continues to be in the cancelled list – presumably because the cases are still pending.

In the last meeting of the DAS Task Force, MIB joint secretary had said that there were six thousand MSOs in the country but only a handful of them had come forward to register.

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