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Broadcasting, TV channels to have separate policies

08-May-2004
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Broadcasting, TV channels to have separate policies

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI ) will come out with separate national policies on broadcasting and distribution of television channels and FM radio in a month's time, according to Mr Pradip Baijal, Chairman, TRAI.

Mr Baijal said the entry-level price for the FM radio operators should be very low only then more players would come into this

He said that TRAI was working towards this end.

Mr Baijal was speaking to newspersons after an open house conducted by TRAI to understand the various issues relating to broadcasting and distribution of television channels. Chennai has been the first in line for the open house.

This would be followed by Delhi and Mumbai.

Earlier the TRAI panel had listened to various views from consumers, cable operators, multi-system operators and broadcasters. Mr Baijal said the growth of the cable TV industry in India was typically one of vertical integration with the consumer at the end of the ladder.

The role of TRAI was to ensure that the consumers' interests were not forgotten and at the same time make sure that the operators' business is viable.

The main points which were posted for discussion was how to regulate the industry, what safeguard need to be built in to protect the consumers' interests and also issues on regulation of advertisement time and schedule on FTA and pay channels.

At the meeting, the consensus among the consumer groups, cable operators and multi system operators was that Conditional Access System (CAS) should continue.

The reason why the consumers present wanted CAS to continue was that the price of free-to-air (FTA) channels had been fixed at Rs 72.

Mr M.B. Nirmal, Chief Adviser, Cable TV Subscribers' Associations Greater Chennai, said the basic tier of free channels should be regulated through a cap on the price.

The competition at the local level should be mandated and that the price of the channels should also be left to market forces to determine.

Mr Nirmal said that TRAI should also look at the time given to advertisement on pay channels.

The other problems raised were of under-declaration and the last mile connectivity. However, Mr R. Mahesh Kumar, Senior Vice-President, Finance and Materials, Asianet Satellite Communications Ltd, said that company suffered a loss of Rs 30 crore per annum because of the pricing strategies of pay channels which is based on the under-declaration patterns in other markets.

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