TRAI advises Cable Industry to cut STB prices in own interest

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New Delhi, Oct 19 (UNI) The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has found the Conditional Access System to be expensive for consumers and has advised the service providers to bring down the prices of Set Top Boxes(STBs) in their own interest.

One of the reasons, CAS has failed to achieve desired penetration was that charges of the rental plus taxes make consumers pay more for the same fare than what they were paying for it earlier.

India is a price sensitive market and that's why cable and broadcasting services have to be affordable for the masses to succeed, according to TRAI member(Broadcasting) R N Chaubey.

It was for this reason that in the case of CAS, entry barriers were kept low in the form of low STB prices and regulation of pay channel prices, but it has been found that consumers still found the new system expensive.

''So it was not for Regulator but for service providers to bring down the price of STBs in the interst of their busines,' he said.

He said that in the present scenario, price regulation in the TV sector was neceessary but it would be done away with as more number of channels come up increasing the competition.

The pace of deregulation will gather momentum as digitisation of the sector increases.

The digitisation would also bring in consolidation in the cable sector.

The country has a huge legacy of 70 mllion plus cable homes, and there was heavy fragnmentation in the sector which heads to be arrested.

Fragmentation took place in the early days when cable was to be taken to maximum possible places, but today it had now become a problem, which will, however, disappear with digitisation with addressable system, because the cost of providing services will go up leaving it unaffordable for small players, according to Mr Chaubey.

He also feels that the Foreign Direct Investement(FDI) limit in the cable TV should be raised to 74 per cent from the existing 49 per cent, as in the case of the telecom sector.

UNI

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