Even before the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which was recently appointed regulator for the broadcasting sector as well, asked for industry inputs, cable operators have sent their wish list. TRAI is expected to issue a consultation paper on the controversial conditional access system (CAS) on Tuesday, even as there are indications that the new cable TV distribution system may be deferred.
Representatives of independent cable networks and last-mile operators, through their letter to Trai, have pushed for a hike in the basic slab charges from Rs 72 to Rs 180 a month under CAS, uniform distribution margin between stakeholders, universal set-top boxes which can be installed anywhere, realistic a la carte pay channel pricing, and cross-media restrictions.
Independent operators, who constitute a majority chunk of the cable industry, have even sought an early meeting with TRAI chairman Pradip Baijal, to “offer him an insight into the industry”. Mr Baijal said he was in the process of studying the issues related to CAS before making recommendations on the new cable TV distribution system. Consumers, growth of the broadcasting sector and industry are going to be the focus areas for TRAI while making recommendations.
The cable fraternity, which has been the main force behind implementing CAS in Delhi, has even demanded compensation from the government, in case it is deferred or rolled back. Also, it has protested against bringing cable operations under the unified licensing regime. Broadcasters, it is understood, are also preparing to interact with TRAI, for CAS and other broadcasting-related issues. The regulator would look at issues such as licensing, advertising cap for pay channels, pricing of channels.