The ongoing conflict between cable operators and Trai is likely to take a new turn under the aegis of the new Prime Minster. A confluence of cable operator’s associations has submitted a memorandum to the PM in the Capital on July 1.
Cable Operators Foundation of India (COFI), National Cable Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and Cable Networks Association (CNA) have come under one umbrella to submit the memorandum, titled ‘The malpractices of foreign satellite broadcasters including stalling the implementation of Conditional Access System’.
Said Roop Sharma, President, COFI, “Our appeal to the Government of India is to set up an independent body to regulate broadcasters in the interest of the cable operators and the consumers.” The organizations are appealing to the telecom regulatory authority to regulate broadcasters in terms of controlling price, choice and the quality of the content.
The fracas broke off after TEN Sports, which was a free-to-air channel, went pay after bagging the sole broadcasting rights for the India-Pakistan cricket series. And, the sports channel had immediately raised its subscription rates.
COFI, NCTA and CAN have put up an argument: When the consumer pays the right amount for the services of Internet, telephones why does he have to pay an extra amount for unwanted and ubiquitous channels? As per sources STAR offers a bouquet for approximately Rs 56 and the cable operator has to pay almost the same amount of fee even if he wants only one channel.
“We want the government to take immediate action to regulate the broadcasters’ right to hike prices at their sweet will. Broadcasters do not come under the jurisdiction of Trai. Moreover, they have implemented TRAP, which is a primitive technology and does not address the viewer’s choice. It is 100% hackable,” claimed a senior representative of the cable operator fraternity.
Cable industry in India is largely unorganized with 60% being under the control of small and unlicensed players. However, the remaining 40%, which has Hathway, Wincable, Siticable and Indusmedia, is now waking up to the threat by the broadcasters who do not come under the Trai jurisdiction as they are not service providers.