Due to these court cases, no one adheres to the TRAI regulations and large broadcasters, as well as their affiliated distribution networks are increasing their domination of the market at the cost of small stakeholders.
The Goods & Services Tax (GST) has been implemented but DTH operators are still pressing for more reforms in reducing their licence fee, increase in licence duration, etc. It has been reported that the Ministry has accepted the recommendations of TRAI on the matter of licence fee paid by the DTH companies.
I do not know how much these policies will reduce the woes of the DTH operators because the root of the matter is that DTH is a satellite based service with heavy capital expenditure and shortage of transponder capacity resulting in costly services to consumers. Majority of Indian population being poor, cannot afford to pay more for the services. Thus, ARPUs remain very low in spite of mandatory digitisation of Cable TV networks in an order to equate them with the DTH networks. Cable still remains low priced giving a tough competition to the DTH operators in the rural and semi urban areas which comprises majority of the market.
TRAI, the regulator, is trying its best to make things better for the industry. It has recently issued a consultation paper on ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in broadcasting industry. Unfortunately, all its existing regulations are challenged in the courts and without a proper regulatory and tariff structure, I wonder, how can we have a better environment for all?
According to a recent consultation paper, TRAI wants to introduce PCO like WiFi service for internet. Cable operators, who are expert in distribution of information and entertainment services, are best suited for this PDO operations. I am sure some large MSOs may take up these projects.
Case filed against TRAI in Madras HC is lingering on with MSOs trying to implead in it now. I feel this case may go on longer as the matter pertains to constitutional jurisdiction of TRAI.
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