Govt tells cable TV operators to cut rates

Govt tells cable TV operators  to cut rates

Information Minister R Roshan Baig on Tuesday gave an ultimatum to cable TV operators across the State to either reduce monthly subscription fees or face competition from the government.

Addressing members of the Karnataka State Cable Operators Association (KSCOA), the minister said the ad hoc system of collecting varying subscription from subscribers was not acceptable.

“Our view is that subscribers must be charged Rs 100 a month. We have asked the operators to either reduce the subscription (ranging from Rs 350 to Rs 400) or face competition from government-owned cable TV services,” said Baig after the meeting. He said he had given two month to operators to resolve the issue, failing which the government will decide on whether to enter the market.

The government is said to have drawn inspiration from the Tamil Nadu model of providing cable TV services to its citizens at Rs 70 a month for 100 free-to-air channels.

The Association responded with a veiled warning to the State government that it is illegal under the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) regulations for the government to enter the broadcasting and distribution sector. 

“Even the TN government has been denied the digital addressable system by Trai. We hope that the government realises this,” said KSCOA president V S Patrick Raju. 

He said such a move by the government would put the livelihood of 15 lakh people in jeopardy. On the issue of varying rates being charged by cable TV operators in the State, Raju said that their role was minimal. The multi-system operators (MSOs) in cities are to be blamed, he said.  “There has been a lot of communication failures on the part of the MSOs. 

They are the ones who fix the rates for channels. Subscribers are forced to view  channels aired by MSOs,” he said. Raju said 2,600 cable TV operators in Bangalore city and two lakh across the State are now contemplating on a new bouquet system, to stem the competition from Direct To Home operators and prevent the government from entering the market.  

“We will provide a bouquet of channels to subscribers based on their language of preference, along with a few sports and news channels. This will reduce the burden on subscribers,” Raju said.

Minister Roshan Baig had in vain asked multiplexes to reduce cinema ticket rates, in the past. Later, he admitted that the government could not enforce such a move.

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