Considering the incomplete implementation of digitalisation of Cable TV in the Phase I & Phase II, even after one year of the deadline having reached, government is wondering what went wrong. I&B minister Manish Tewari has asked the ministry to do an external audit.
Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT is also carrying out it own scrutiny talking to various stakeholders.
On 21 November 2013 the Committee heard the LCOs and Independent MSOs about the progress of DAS implementation. Representations of various states Cable TV Associations alongwith Cable Operators Federation of India gave their presentations before Rao Inderjit Singh, Chairman of the Committee and twenty other member of the present there.
Representatives of Cable Operators and Independent MSOs included Ms. Roop Sharma, President, Cable Operators Federation of India, Atul Saraf, CMD, ABS Group (Mumbai), Pramod Pandaya, President, Gujarat Cable Operators Federation (Gujarat), Swapan Chowdhury, President, Kolkata Cable and Broadband Operators Welfare Association, (Kolkata), Sudish Kumar, Karnataka Cable Operators Association (Karnataka), Chanderdeep Bhatia and Paramjit Singh, West Delhi Cable Operators Association and Independent MSOs including Jeevan Khanna (Lucknow), G S Oberoi and Gaurav Gupta from Delhi were present.
The committee had also sought LCOs’ opinion on Phase III and IV of the cable TV digitisation.
“We have demanded that the government should first sort out the Phase I and II of digitisation before moving ahead with Phase III and IV,” COFI president Roop Sharma said.
DAS, as envisaged by the government, has not been implemented in its entirety, rues Sharma adding that all that has happened in the name of digitisation is just seeding of set-top boxes (STBs).
The representatives also told the standing committee that the government must make provision for indigenous manufacturing of STBs before proceeding with Phase III and IV.
ABS Group CMD Atul Saraf said, “We told the committee that the country has lost $10 billion due to importing of STBs from China. For Phase III and IV, the committee must impress upon the government to make it mandatory to source STBs from indigenous STB manufacturers.
” The representatives also cautioned the committee about the impact of cross media holding and vertical integration on the industry’s growth. They also argued before the committee that there was a need for the government to bring a separate act for broadcasters and DTH operators.
Some of the other demands of the cable operators:
•Digitisation should be voluntary and not mandatory
•STB should be owned by the customer and not the MSO
•Broadcasters must publish a la carte rate of the channels
•MSO-LCO revenue must be reviewed
•Customer Application Form (CAF) will be kept with the LCOs
•Subscriber billing should be generated by LCO Right to switch-off STB should be with the LCO
•LCOs must be brought underlicensing regime with a licence period of 10 years