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Cable operators must air 33 free-to-air channels: I&B Ministry

23-August-2002
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Cable operators must air 33 free-to-air channels: I&B Ministry

A cable operator will have to offer his consumers a minimum of 33 free-to-air channels including three from Doordarshan, in the basic tier under the conditional access system to be introduced in the country soon.

The decision to give a minimum of 33 channels was taken at a meeting between the cable operators and the information & broadcasting ministry chaired by joint secretary Rakesh Mohan. A director from the ministry of finance was also present at the meeting.

No consensus on the price of the basic tier could be reached. Cable industry sources say that while the independent cable operators wanted to be allowed to charge a minimum of Rs 3 per free-to-air channel per month, the multi-system operators, especially those with interests in broadcasting as well, were keen to fix a much lower tariff of Rs 30 for the entire bouquet. Cable operators allege at for a price as low as Rs 30 for the basic tier, the cable industry would become sick.

On the other hand, broadcasters feel that if the price of the basic bouquet is very high, few consumers would opt for the pay channels.

It is learnt that after hearing the different parties out, the ministry has sought some more information on the cable industry business before deciding on the price of basic tier.

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