Digitalisation will not succeed unless measures are taken to check the large MSOs which are also acting as distributors for many broadcasters
BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | May 14, 2012
In a representation to Ambika Soni, Minister for Information & Broadcasting, the Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI) has said that the digitalisation process, although a boon for them, will not succeed unless the government took adequate and strong measures to end the monopoly of large MSOs which are also acting as distributors for many broadcasters.
The ministry has been asked to iron out contentious issues that have cropped up after TRAI issued the Tariff Order and Interconnect Order on April 30, 2012. According to Ms. Roop Sharma, COFI President, the digitalisation initiative is likely to suffer serious setback as certain content providers and their distributors are not providing or are not likely to provide content to Independent MSOs or Cable Operators who wish to undertake digitalisation on their own after getting themselves registered with the Ministry as there are conflicting interests involved.
COFI has suggested the following to the MIB to ensure a level and fair playing field: - Various broadcasters/their distribution companies like Media Pro, MSMD, ESPN Star Sports, Sun 18 have appointed various MSOs as distributors who also have their own cable networks.Â This is a clear case of conflict of interest. - It is in the interest of these distributors who also have interests in cable networks as MSOs that their supporting broadcasters deny the content to the third party independent MSOs and Cable Operators so that the monopoly of their associated MSOs is maintained and perpetuated. - COFI has drawn the attention of the Minister to the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Star India Pvt Ltd Vs Sea TV Network (2006) 4SCC 130, in which it was clearly held that appointing an MSO as distributor of a broadcaster would be clearly anti-competitive as this would amount to creating exclusivity or monopoly of one service provider in an area and thereby denying content to other competing MSOs in that area. It was further held by the Court that such an appointment of competing MSO as distributor is clearly prohibited by TRAI regulations. In majority of the cases, when a broadcaster or its authorised distributors appoint cable operators or MSOs as their authorised distribution agent, they create a monopoly on the ground which has adverse impact on small and independent MSOs. - COFI has suggested that in the interest of proper implementation of the digital initiative, MIB and TRAI, while reiterating the law declared by the Sea TV judgment as stated above, should issue an advisory to all broadcasters and their distributors such as Media Pro, MSMD, Sun 18, etc., that they should give an undertaking that they will not appoint any person or entity directly or indirectly who is involved in cable networking operations/business either by himself or his family members and close relatives. - It has been further suggested that all broadcasters should give the names and addresses of the distributors to MIB and TRAI. - All MSOs/Independent MSOs should give a declaration that they do not hold any agency on behalf of any broadcaster either directly or indirectly. - It should be made a part of the cable rules that holding distributorship of any broadcaster by an MSO whether directly or indirectlyÂ is tantamount to creating a monopoly and exclusivity on the ground which is in violation of the Downlinking Permission and â€˜must provide regulationsâ€™ besides violating the judgment of Honâ€™ble Supreme Court in Sea TV matter. It has alsoÂ informed the minister that companies like Media Pro (a joint venture of Star TV, DEN, Zee and Turner) and MSMD have appointed MSOs as their distributors in various cities and states like Kanpur, Hyderabad, Gujarat, etc., and are now not giving content to independent MSOs as they wish to protect their networks. The minister has been requested to take up this issue immediately in order to create a conducive environment for successful implementation of digital cable. Info@BestMediaInfo.com
Why have you not named UCN a very big Cable TV network in Vidharbh region (Central India) of Maharashtra? UCN is an independent MSO and is a Distributor for ESPN, SONY, MediaPro. Don't you consider this a hand in glove kind of MONOPOLY?