The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended on Wednesday that the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit on distribution firms that beam signals to cable operators be raised to 74 per cent from the current 49 per cent, and the government immediately signalled that it might favour it.
Rajiv Choubey, principal adviser at TRAI, told a seminar on digital broadcasting that the regulator favoured a liberal regime for the “headend-in-the-sky” that resembles a direct-to-home broadcaster, but one who is an intermediate platform who carry broadcast signals from satellite-based television channels to last-mile cable operators.
The recommendations have been issued by TRAI on Wednesday, he said.
“We have specifically recommended that foreign investment should be 74 per cent,” Choubey said.
Responding to his views and in a broader context of allowing higher foreign investment in carriage companies, Asha Swarup, secretary of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, said the government favoured TRAI’s views, though it was not clear if she spoke only of the headend-in-the-sky.
“It is a very, very sensible recommendation and we should be doing it,” she said. “We are looking at raising limits not only in cable but on various other platforms.”
Choubey said the regulator favoured price controls on pay channels as a measure to boost the conversion of analog-signal based distribution into digital platforms in the long-term interests of the industry.
“Tariff is an instrument of digitalisation,” he said.