Even as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (Trai) tariff order is being hailed across a broad spectrum as a virtual game-changer in India's media and entertainment TV landscape, about 60,000 cable operators in the country are a pained lot.
Saying consumers are the worst sufferers in this process, KK Sharma, technical adviser, Cable Operators’ Federation, said: "It is sad that Trai, supposed to be an experts' body, equates an independent cable operator, operating in a small city or an area of a metro to a national Multi System Operator (MSO) operating all over the country, a DTH operator like Tata Sky or Dish TV and an IPTV operator like Airtel and Reliance, saying that it is creating a level playing field." DTH players whose margins may also be dented due to the onset of a digitalised environment, however, hailed the move.
“We already have six DTH players in the country, I welcome the additional competition from local cable operators on a digital platform. At least his cost structure will be the same as mine, it will be more transparent,” said Harit Nagpal, CEO, Tata Sky.
It has been widely reported that cable operators on analog platforms had under-declared their numbers and margins besides not paying taxes leading to losses for broadcasters and the government.
Trai has authorised MSOs to charge a carriage fee from broadcasters but stipulated that carriage fee would be transparent and any channel, which wants to reach viewers can use the platforms offered by the MSO by paying the carriage fee.
Despite mixed recations coming from the industry, the final consumers of a digitalised TV regime sounds optimistic.