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Govt debating whether local channels of MSOs be brought under licensing net: Rathore

NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) is debating whether the local channels of multi-system operators (MSOs) should come under the licensing framework of the existing Cable TV Act, like the other private satellite TV channels.

The Centre is deliberating on how cable TV operators’ local channels could be brought into the licensing net so that they are responsible for what is being beamed, Minister of State for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore informed the Rajya Sabha.

Rathore was replying to a question raised by Rajya Sabha member and Essel Group chairman Subhash Chandra.

Chandra had sent a proposal to the MIB around three years ago to ensure that signals beamed by cable operators should be licensed under the Cable TV Act. Stating that licensing is essential, Chandra wanted to know if the ministry has taken any step on it.

Private satellite channels needed a licence from the MIB to beam in the country.

Local authorities and district administrators are authorised to take action as per the Cable Television Networks Act, Rathore stated.

In Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, cable operators showing channels in violation of rules were served showcause notices, he added. He informed that MSOs were issued an advisory to complete the digitisation process at the earliest.

Former I&B minister Ambika Soni queried about the transmitters on the border areas of the country being weak and inadequate.

Rathore replied that there were 243 television transmitters in the border areas and 423 FM transmitters at 392 locations.

In the border areas, there are 31 FM transmitters which are being put in place at present and 11 digital transmitters for television, Rathore said.

For border areas, 31,000 set-top boxes (STBs) are being distributed free of cost for receiving better signals, the minister added.