New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has released a new consultation paper to regulate the market structure/ competition in Cable TV services across the country.
The issue was initially raised by the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) in December 2012, when it sought the recommendation of the regulatory body. In its letter to Trai, the ministry highlighted how Cable TV distribution is virtually monopolised by a single entity in some states like Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Orissa, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh.
According to MIB, it has become necessary to examine whether there is a need to bring in certain reasonable restrictions on Multi-System Operators (MSOs) and Local Cable operators (LCOs), including restricting their area of operation or restricting the subscriber base to prevent monopoly. The Cable TV Act and the Cable TV Rules also do not restrict the number of MSOs/LCOs operating in any specific area.
After following a due consultation process, Trai issued its recommendations on 26 November 2013. However, Trai has now received a backreference from MIB mentioning therein that a considerable time has passed since the recommendations were made and that the media and entertainment (M&E) landscape has changed drastically, particularly with the advent of new digital technologies in this sector. Technological developments especially IP technology and the increasing use of packet-switched digital communications have made converged services possible.
Therefore, some of the issues need further consideration by the authority and it may provide a fresh set of recommendations in the matter looking at the subsequent developments/expansion in the M&E sector, stated MIB.
The regulatory body has now invited comments from the stakeholders by 22 November. Counter comments, if any, may be submitted by 6 December.
As of September 2021, there are 1733 registered MSOs in the country and approximately 1. 55 lakh cable operators as of March 2021.