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Trai moots Rs 50 million entry fee for convergence licence

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MUMBAI: Cable TV operators will have much to cheer with this recommendation from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). The broadcast and telecom regulator has suggested a much lower levy of Rs 50 million as entry fee for national and international long distance licence (NLD/ILD) in the converged scenario.

Trai had earlier suggested Rs 1.07 billion, making it expensive for cable operators to move into telephony services. "If the government approves Trai's recommendation, it will particularly benefit us as we are planning to enter into the triple play area," says Siticable CEO Jagjit Kohli. Siticable, a leading multi-system operator (MSO), is a wholly owned subsidiary of Zee Telefilms.

While asking the government to approve its unified licensing recommendations at the earliest, Trai also said in a release today that there should be reduction in the entry fee to reflect the changes made in the entry fee for NLD/ILD licence. "The entry fee should come down to Rs 50 million as against Rs 1.07 billion recommended earlier and this should further reduce to Rs 300,000 after five years as already recommended," it said.

In order to promote convergence and competition in broadcasting and telecommunications, the regulator has called for the clearance of the Communications Convergence Bill, 2001, albeit with some modifications. "There should be converged regulatory regime. The starting point for this exercise should be the Communications Convergence Bill, 2001. However, several changes need to be made in this Bill. Content regulation should be kept out of the purview of the converged regulator. The division of powers between the Government, TDSAT and TRAI should also broadly correspond to what is presently the position," Trai said, releasing the recommendations on convergence.

"Convergence of technologies is rapidly blurring the boundaries between telecommunications and broadcasting. It is necessary for the legal and regulatory framework to adapt to this convergence and actively promote such convergence. This would also help in facilitating competition," the regulator said.

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