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TRAI to issue final CAS consultation paper next month

27-January-2004
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TRAI to issue final CAS consultation paper next month

Broadcasting regulator TRAI on Monday said it will issue a final consultation paper early next month and follow it up with presentations by interested parties and discussions with experts for finalising the norms for regulating cable and broadcasting services.

Also, to keep up with its increased work load, the regulator has decided to hire 10 more officials, including experts in broadcasting and cable industry, and these posts are expected to be filled up soon.

However, TRAI chairman Pradip Baijal remained non-commital on whether the regulator will be able to meet the three-month deadline set by the courts for formulating detailed guidelines for the cable and broadcasting sector.

"What TRAI issued last week is only a preliminary consultation paper. We will issue a final one a fortnight after public views are with us," Baijal told PTI.

He said 15 days after the final consultation paper is released and industry's views on it are known, the regulator will call each stakeholder for presentations and open house sessions before declaring its final view.

When asked about the three-month deadline, Baijal remained non-commital, saying: "we are trying to work within the deadline".

After threatening to end cable operators' monopoly, TRAI has zeroed in on broadcasters, saying they cannot arbitrarily hike subscription rates and all collections from cable operators by them will have to be on the rates prevailing on December 26, 2003.

The newly-appointed regulator also said it will study the cost structures of broadcasters and eventually evolve principles to regulate subscription rates they charge from cable operators.

"The agreement on rates between MSOs/cable operators and broadcasters as on December 26 will have to be valid," Baijal said.

On what would happen if the number of subscribers of a cable operator goes up, Baijal said: "any increase in total collection will be on a pro rata basis since the broadcasters will not be allowed to increase the charges per channel per subscriber".

Baijal also said TRAI was studying the cost structures of broadcasters.

"I will examine their cost structures... Fixing prices for them will be difficult but we will have to evolve some principles," he said.

Baijal has also warned against geographical monopolies by cable operators, saying these will have to go so that the market forces are allowed to determine tariffs.

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