Cable ops for preventing over-regulation

MUMBAI: The battle for the last mile, of reaching out to the consumers and retaining the existing viewers of cable and satellite TV has just begun to unfold, with industry stakeholders making a impassioned plea to join hands to prevent over-regulation and allow free play of the market to prevail.

Day two of FICCI-FRAMES 2007 on Tuesday saw industry stalwarts debate the vital question of connecting to the consumer effectively in a scenario where prices are regulated, there is little control on content delivery and the predictability of revenues in the future is a big question mark.

IndusInd Media & Communications Ltd director Ashok Mansukhani maintained that pointing out that the key learnings of the roll out of the Conditional Access System (CAS) during the last three months had adequately demonstrated that the consumers had becoming extremely discerning about which TV channel to view and at what price. “The consumers have voted with their remotes and this puts the onus on the service providers to shift the power to the consumers,” he said.

Mansukhani felt that that although the advent of IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) would be a greater threat to Multi System Operators (MSOs) than DTH providers, because of the former’s huge network infrastructure and resources, in the next couple of years MSOs would continue to take the lead in reaching out to the consumers.

Ortel Communication Ltd. director and co-promoter Jagi Mangat Panda said the last mile technology is a network that connects consumers to limitless bandwidth and traced the over-regulation of the sector to acute fragmentation of the industry. “MSOs and cable operators alike were to be blamed equally over-regulation. The need of the hour for broadcasters, MSOs and cable operators, was to get together and ensure that regulation was minimal,” she pointed out.

She saw little logic in price determination by TRAI and stated that “if TRAI wanted to be populist in terms of determining the prices the consumers were to pay, then it should have been doing the same for mobile phones. That hasn’t happened.”