TRAI recommends separate licensing for LCO and MSO

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended a separate licensing framework for local cable operators (LCO’s) and multi system operators (MSO’s), in its draft recommendations to restructure cable television services.

India’s cable television industry is facing challenges of technology, resources and fragmented distribution, leading the regulator to examine possibilities of restructuring.

“Although the physical spread of Cable TV sector has been significant, the sector in its present form is experiencing challenges of technological upgradation, appropriate addressability and resources. The regulatory framework need to address the issues of transparency, addressability, vertical restructuring, fragmented distribution chain, low digitalisation of TV Networks and technological upgradation.” TRAI said in its statement.

The draft recommendations include an entry fee for different areas of operations, a five-year licence fee and encourages advance transmission technology.

There is also fierce competition to existing conventional cable TV operators from those who use advance distribution technologies like DTH (direct-to-home), HITS (Head end in the sky) and IPTV (Internet Protocol TV), TRAI added.

Dish TV India and Tata Sky compete in the DTH market, with mobile phone operators Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications and Videocon, also planning their entry over the next few months.

TRAI, which says absence of licensing and regulation frame work could slow future development, also encourages voluntary CAS (conditional access system) which allows viewers to select pay channels.

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