The Karnataka State Cable Operators’ Association (KSCOA) has written to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), protesting the treatment meted out to local cable operators (LCO) and consumers in the process of digitising cable TV.
“Very sad to submit that the present digital addressable system (DAS) regulations have been framed only to help some four-five big companies who already enjoy formidable monopoly in the market with their MSO networks, DTH operations and numerous pay channels,” reads a letter to Rahul Khullar, Chairman, TRAI.
DAS is where channels are packaged under categories and charged for, while the earlier conditional access system (CAS) allowed customers to pick and choose individual channels.
The letter alleges that Trai has misunderstood the functioning of the broadcast industry, resulting in unfair treatment to thousands of LCOs and helping growth of vertical monopolies.
KSCOA president V S Patric Raju said that TRAI has taken all decisions at the last moment.
“Trai should have given us a proper hearing. They have not even taken into consideration more than 80 replies and counter-replies to their Consultation Paper on implementation of DAS, filed by the Cable TV Industry, expressing their concerns,” he said, adding that even open house discussions were not held before implementing the first phase of digitisation in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
“TRAI has reduced LCOs’ share of the basic-service-tier (BST) from a fixed amount of Rs 82 for 30 channels to a maximum of Rs 45 for 100 channels (revenue reduced but number of channels increased) which is highly illogical,” the letter said.
Authorities have given undue advantage to multi system operators (MSOs) neglecting LCOs.
“TRAI has left the industry to big MSOs who are just five at the national level and have the support of pay broadcasters, by recommending more FDI for them, more revenue share and giving them more control on the subscribers through various DAS regulations, making it extremely non-viable and difficult for LCOs to survive,” the letter said.