Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Oct 02, 2004
Industry & Economy - Radio/TV
CAS implementation in Govt's hands: TRAI
Suggests 3 models for cable TV delivery
Mr Pradip Baijal, Chairman, TRAI. - Ramesh Sharma
New Delhi , Oct. 1
THE Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has suggested three alternative models to introduce addressability in the cable television system whereby consumers would pay for the channel they wish to view.
In its recommendations submitted to the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry, the regulator has said that an acceptable model is to be found for each area.
"Model I provides for the existing system with all new pay channels after a notified date (designated as premium channels) to come via a STB (set-top box); Model II provides for the use of TRAPS (device for filtering frequencies) along with the condition that all new pay channels after a notified date will come via a STB (as in Model I); while Model III is based on the presumption that addressability through CAS is introduced by a legislative mandate," it said.
"Regulation of the cable TV should be a evolutionary process. We have to create an environment for regulation," said Mr Pradip Baijal, Chairman, TRAI. The Government would take a final decision on the implementation process of CAS, he added.
No tariff change till year-end: The TRAI also said that there would be no change in the tariff of pay channels with only a possible revision at the end of the year. The regulator said the freeze would continue to be as per the rates prevailing on December 26, 2003. "These could be changed based on inflation," said Mr Baijal. Also, the authority expects the rates of new pay channels to be similar to the rates prevalent on December 26, 2003 of similar channels.
Bundling of channels: The regulator has also suggested that in order to prevent bundling of channels, a regulation specifying the maximum allowable discount on a bouquet of channels would be required in CAS areas. Also, new pay channels launched after December 26, 2003 (such as Hungama, Animax and Zoom) or existing free-to-air channels turning pay, would not be allowed to become part of bouquet of channels. These channels could be offered to the cable operator individually or as a new bouquet of pay channels.
No regulation on ads: However, in areas where CAS or TRAP is introduced, the basic tier price will continue as Rs 72 per month, along with a provision for review by TRAI in consultation with the State Governments. The authority also did not take any firm decision on the issue of allowing advertisements on pay channels. "No regulation is proposed for ads except an enabling provision to provide for regulation in the future if so required," Mr Baijal said.
Disputes: In a consumer-friendly approach, the regulator said no broadcaster or multi-system operator (MSO) could cut off the signals to another cable service provider without giving at least one month's notice giving in brief reasons for the proposed action. Also, it said events of general public interest to be held in India would have to be carried on the network of the public service broadcaster.
Interconnection: On interconnection agreements, the regulator has said, apart from the existing interconnection regulation requiring broadcasters and MSOs to file interconnect agreements, it has been proposed that MSOs and cable operators will file interconnect agreements between them with the authorised officers.
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