TV tariff guidelines: Cable firms up in arms, but MSOs not unhappy

Cable TV firms are strongly critical of the new tariff guidelines issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India a few days back, saying they are not realistic (See: Indian TV industry gears up for Trai's digital cable TV norms).

"TRAI is behaving like a controller instead of a regulator and the information & broadcasting ministry is behaving like a dictator. We are not happy with the Rs45 share in its proposed tariff plan for cable operators as this will lead to unemployment," Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI) president Roop Sharma said at an Assocham event in New Delhi on Friday.

She said digitisation was welcome, but the manner in which it is being enforced is not right.

At the same time, the Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) issued a press release saying that the carriage fees already being paid by TV channels has "crippled" many broadcasters, especially the smaller-sized ones. It said that there is an "urgent need" to revisit this issue, and added that it would seek clarity from TRAI on the matter.

IBF said carriage fee is a "big area of concern" for broadcasters and it has restricted their ability to invest in content and other activities of a channel.

However IBF, which represents multi-system operators (MSOs) rather than local cable TV firms, welcomed the 'must carry' clause under which distributors have to enhance their channel carrying capacity to a minimum of 200 channels from 1 July this year and 500 channels from 1 January 2013.