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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Cable TV user data deadline extended

This story first appeared in DNA Money edition on Wednesday, June 26, 2013.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has extended the June 25 deadline for submission of television customer application forms (CAFs) by cable networks to July 10.

Multi-system operators (MSOs), or mega networks that deliver cable and satellite television channels to homes via neighbourhood allies, pleaded that since compiling CAFs is an enormous and complex task, a deadline extension is necessary, Trai said.

The extension was also done to minimise consumer inconvenience. If the new deadline is not complied with, subscribers’ existing connections via set-top boxes (STBs) would be disabled, Trai said.

Ashok Mansukhani, executive director of IndusInd Media and Communications, an MSO, welcomed the deadline extension. “Each MSO has given individual deadline to Trai. I’m sure they will do their best to achieve it.”

Trai said the number of identified subscribers has increased, but there are still a large number of television subscribers whose details are not yet available with cable operators and MSOs.

Industry sources said some 70% of CAFs may have been submitted so far under the new ‘digital addressable cable TV systems’  regime. “Certain operators will have to finally select which MSO to go with,” said Mansukhani.

But Roop Sharma, president of the Cable Operators’ Federation of India (COFI), said, “The extended period is not adequate. There are unresolved issues like the nature of deals between MSOs and broadcasters. MSOs are keen on offering bouquets or packages of channels, while the government is talking of an a la carte rates.”

Most of MSOs have begun offering a la carte pricing. “A la carte may not have caught on yet with consumers in India, but bouquets tend to be cheaper worldwide,” said an MSO official.

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