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MIB mulls registration of MSOs without security clearance

The 10th meeting of the Task Force on DAS implementation looked at key issues such as DAS awareness, STB availability, unregistered MSOs, and status of interconnect agreements

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | September 2, 2015

MIB-LOGO

The 10th meeting of the Task Force on implementation of Phases III & IV of DAS (Digital Addressable System) in cable TV network was held on August 17, 2015 under the chairmanship of Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Jitendara Shankar Mathur. The cut-off date for digitisation in these markets is December 31, 2015.

Among the keys issues discussed were DAS implementation awareness, availability of set-top boxes (STBs), interconnect agreements and fear of unregistered Multi Screen Operators (MSOs) in some segments.

The core concern was laid by Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufactures Association (CEAMA) representative Ankan Biswas, who mentioned that no major orders for STBs had been received by them from the MSOs so far. He stressed on the urgency to place orders for the STBs now for their timely delivery before the cut-off date.

Meanwhile, Kanchan Thapa, Entertainment Tax Inspector and representative of Government of Uttarakhand, mentioned that adequate number of STBs was not provided by MSOs in the State, resulting in slow progress of digitisation.

With regards to the pricing of STBs, TRAI representative GS Kesarwani mentioned that as per the regulations MSOs and LCOs (Local Cable Operators) had to offer set-top boxes to the consumers on rent, instalment, outright purchase or any other scheme as per the standard tariff package prescribed by TRAI. Any complaint on this issue should be addressed to the regulatory authority.

Regarding signing of interconnect agreements, the representative of IndusInd Media & Communications said that they were working on delivery through the HITS (Headend-in-the-sky) platform besides cable. They are now in the final stage of negotiations with the broadcasters.

Md. Iquebal Ahmed, the representative of LCO association from Assam, complained that broadcasters were not providing content to them. He added that for any issue they had to come to Delhi for filing a case with the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). To this, the TRAI representative said that in case of a dispute, TDSAT was the only appropriate forum. For issues related to regulations, they could also approach TRAI’s regional office in Kolkata, he added.

Also taken up for discussion was the theory that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting was considering issuing MSO registrations without security clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as per advice of the MHA. The representative of IBF (Indian Broadcasting Federation) expressed apprehension on the approach suggested by MHA. Mathur assured him that due process of law and scrutiny would be followed under all circumstances for grant of registrations to MSOs.

Representative of the cable operators association mentioned that there were 5,000 headend owners who were MSOs or LMOs. As some of these MSOs/ LMOs have not applied for registration, he felt that it might result in some dark areas once the deadline was over. Joint Secretary R Jaya mentioned that the MSO registration was still open and anyone could apply for it. She informed that 349 MSO registrations had been granted till date, including 126 provisional registrations.

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