Keeping an eye on the Commonwealth Games 2010, TRAI today called for incentives like rationalisation of duties on set-top boxes to promote digitalisation of cable TV services that will ensure better quality of reception and enhanced channel carrying capacity under a four-year national plan starting from April 2006.
Customs duties on set-top boxes for cable TV should be reduced to 10 per cent from 15 per cent while excise duty be raised to eight per cent from nil and import duty on ICs (integrated circuits) be down to eight per cent from 15 per cent from April 1, 2006, TRAI said in its recommendations.
Direct-to-home, broadband based IP TV, satellite TV are already using digital. TRAI also recommended that the Centre should propose that the states use the proceeds of the entertainment tax during these four years (2006-2010) for consumer education programme. This would also help state governments in increasing their tax base.
Providing a framework for licensing continuing with the current system for registration, the regulator suggested automatic licensing for existing operators (from analogue) and a non-exclusive automatic licensing process for new operators, subject to compliance with certain minimum conditions which include that the applicant company's Indian shareholding of paid-up caiptal in not below 51 per cent.
"No person shall be allowed to offer digital service after April 2006 without a licence for digital services," it said.