Saturday, 8 June 2013

Kolkata LCOs Protest unfair dealing by MSOs

LCOs in Kolkata have joined together against the MSOs for their unfair deals in revenue sharing.
This was expected as TRAI very smartly had avoided interconnect regulations on revenue share and left it on negotiated deals between MSOs and LCOs. This was bound to fail as no negotiations in the industry have succeeded since 1994 when pay channels and MSOs entered the market. LCOs always have the fear that big MSOs supported by pay broadcasters will push them out of the industry.
MSOs of Kolkata including India Cable Networks Co. Ltd. a JV of WWIL had a meeting with LCOs at the beginning of DAS implementation and promised to give them a good revenue share, much more than 45% of Basic Package (Maximum Cost Rs 100) and 35% of pay packages (minimum cost fixed at Rs 150) stipulated in TRAI regulations, if they helped MSOs seed the STBs to meet government deadlines.
Now after six months, once STBs have been seeded MSOs have backtracked and asked the LCOs to give them Rs 70 +Entertainment Tax (5%) + Service Tax per STB.
Since no packages have been implemented and no SMS systems are working, LCOs are unable to collect increased subscriptions as fixed by the MSOs in their packages already declared to TRAI. LCOs are unable to meet the demand of the MSOs as after paying Rs 89/-(Rs 70+ Taxes) to the MSO, their survival will  become difficult.
To pressurize the consumers, MSOs have switched off many pay channels. This forced operators to come out on the roads as MSOs are not heeding to any request by the LCOs. Fearing any backlash India Cable Net Co. Ltd. (ICNCL)  went to the court and got the injunction and order for imposing Section 144 so that LCOs do not force entry into their offices and cause damage. According to Mr Ratan Jaswal of Cable Operator's Sangram Committee, Mr Suresh Sethiya and Mr Surendra Agarwal, JV Partners of SITI Cable rejected the proposal of Cable Operators leading to the protest. Cable Operators had asked for packages to be made in consultation with them.
On 24 May 2013 the state government had also intervened and State Urban development minister Firhad Hakim held a meeting  with all the MSOs including ICNCL. He directed MSOs to switch on all the channels so that public is not harassed. Also it is believed that the State government wants the status quo to be maintained till the Panchayat Elections are completed in the state  so that digitalization does not have adverse effect on the ruling government. Mr. Hakim also directed the MSOs to consult their LCOs before taking any action on DAS packages etc.


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