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CASBAA India Forum: ‘Govt mulling to keep FDI cap at 74 pc in case of infrastructure and platform services’

19-March-2008
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CASBAA India Forum: ‘Govt mulling to keep FDI cap at 74 pc in case of infrastructure and platform services’

A lot needs to be done by the industry to educate the consumers to make them understand that CAS is more beneficial than the conventional cable. This was stated by Asha Swarup, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, during the day-long India Satellite Forum organised by Cable And Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) in Delhi on March 18, 2008.

Speaking about Headend-In-The-Sky (HITS) operators, Swarup said that the Government had largely accepted the recommendations provided by TRAI, except where it differed that HITS could operate both in KU band and C band. “We have stuck to the fact that HITS can go only in the C band,” she said.

The I&B Ministry has constituted a committee to look at the entertainment tax structure, especially for the cable and DTH services, and give its recommendations.

Regarding the FDI cap, Swarup said that it could be kept at 74 per cent in case of infrastructure and platform services like teleports, DTH and satellite radio. “A 100 per cent investment is already allowed in case of non-news and current affairs channels. More changes are proposed in the 26 per cent investment limits for news and current affairs channels and 49 per cent for cable operators,” added Swarup.

Speaking on whether CAS should be extended on a mandatory basis or whether there should be voluntary introduction of CAS, referring to a TRAI report she said, “The report concluded that left to itself, voluntary CAS would not be possible because introduction of addressability brings about transparency in subscriber base and viewership and, therefore, may affect the revenues of various service providers in the distribution chain. This uncertainty acts as a deterrent to the introduction of CAS on voluntary basis. Secondly, unless all cable operators and MSOs simultaneously decide to switch over to voluntary rollout and all stakeholders agree to that, it cannot happen.”

A group of experts in TRAI has selected 55 cities with a population of more than one million and small cities located in close proximity to CAS cities. It has also included state capitals. TRAI’s group has suggested a three-year rollout plan, ending September 2011, for these cities.

The issue of whether the tariff would be under forbearance or whether it would be regulated has been extensively dealt with TRAI while passing its tariff order dated October 4, 2007, with respect to non-CAS areas.

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