Cable TV

Punjab govt. studying Arasu & other regulatory models on distribution

NEW DELHI:  The Punjab Government is said to be studying Tamilnadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation (TACTV) model as also some other regulatory setups as part of a proposal to explore bringing about more transparency in  cable TV distribution system in the State, while breaking any monopoly that exists.

A source in the state government confirmed to indiantelevision.com that structuring and functioning of Asasu is being studied by legal eagles. The source added that some other regulatory models are being studied too to explore setting up of a mechanism ensuring that any “monopoly in cable TV distribution”, if it exists, could be broken. The final aim: make the whole system transparent and democratic for all players to operate in Punjab.

Former-cricketer-turned-politician-cum-TV-personality Navjot Singh Sidhu, a minister in the present Congress government in Punjab, had alleged in the state assembly some time back that  MSO Fastway Transmission Private Limited, under the "patronage" of the previous Akali government, had caused a loss of around Rs 6840 million to the state exchequer. Because of political patronage, Fastway monopolised the cable TV business in Punjab, a PTI report had stated, basing its observations on Sidhu’s claims.

In a laudable step Punjab chief minister Amrinder Singh, despite his cabinet colleague’s outbursts, in a public statement few days later assured the TV industry  ruling out “vendetta politics”  or any witch-hunt against any MSO or TV channel. Still, he did say any allegations of  tax evasion would be probed as per the law.

However, the Punjab government source was unable to fully explain to indiantelevision.com how studying the Arasu model would help as the TN MSO is a state government-run organization, which itself has been accused of  trying to monopolise cable TV distribution business in the south Indian state.

In a set of recommendations first made in 2008, then in 2012 and reiterated in August 2014, broadcast and telecoms regulator TRAI had suggested barring government or government backed organizations from entering the business of TV broadcast or  distribution. The suggestions, part of media ownership’s proposed norms, have been gathering dust in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under successive governments.

TRAI had observed: “Given that about six years have elapsed without any concrete action being taken by the government, the Authority strongly recommends that …political bodies, religious bodies, urban, local, panchayati raj, and other publicly funded bodies, and Central and State government ministries, departments, companies, undertakings, joint ventures, and government-funded entities and affiliates be barred from entry into broadcasting and TV channel distribution sectors…(and)  in case permission to any such organisations have already been granted, an appropriate exit route is to be provided.”

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