Friday, 11 July 2014

Consumers must benefit from Digitalisation

On 11 June Cable Operators from all states, gathered in New Delhi, to chalk out a path for themselves fighting against some disturbing regulations that have endangered their livelihood. Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI) along with NCTA organized the event that attracted more than 600 cable operators from all over India.
They passed a resolution to fight for their Fundamental Rights to the finish as they feel the DAS regulations mandating digitization of Cable TV in 2011 and subsequent years have created a complete imbalance in the industry harming the interest of thousands of LCOs as well as consumers who are still wondering why the government forced them to buy a poor quality STB and pay increased subscriptions every month, literally blackmailing with a blackout. They are still waiting for the benefits of digitization that the government had assured them through numerous advertisements in the TV channels.
Situation in the industry is still chaotic with number of court cases being filed against the regulations by all stakeholders in different courts. Now cases are also being filed in TDSAT against 27.5% hike in pay TV prices allowed by TRAI by only recently rates had gone up post DAS implementation. Various state associations who feel it would be difficult for LCOs to force subscribers to pay hiked rate recently.
Now stakeholders including DTH operators and broadcasters are approaching the new government in a hope to see some market friendly changes in the regulations. How much time will it take and what changes may come is a case of speculation, but this is confirmed that this way industry cannot go on for a long time.
On 19 June, while speaking to senior executives of the industry in a round table conference, Prakash Javadekar, I&B Minister opened his mind that Digitalisation must benefit the consumers. If industry is benefiting from it, there must be a trade off for the common man.
TRAI has taken out three consultations last month, the first one is on commercial subscribers which is already closed. The second on video services and value added services on Cable Networks as well as DTH is still open for comments. Another consultation on IP based services has also come at the fag end of the last month. They have come very late as two phases of digitisation have already ended but it may be good for the industry in the long run.

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