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MIB writes to chief secys to crack down on analogue signal transmission

MUMBAI: Faced with complaints of analogue signal transmission even after the sunset date, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has written a letter to the chief secretaries of states to take action, through the authorised officers, against cable operators who are still carrying analogue signals.

The letter follows two advisories issued by the ministry to the authorised officers to take action against multi-system operators (MSOs)/local cable operators (LCOs) transmitting analogue signals.

As per Sec 2 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995, the DM, SDM and CP are the authorised officers. As per Sec 11 of Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995, the authorised officers have the power to seize the equipment of the defaulting cable operators.

The sunset date for shutting analogue signals was 1 April in Phase IV areas of digital addressable system (DAS); however, analogue signals are still being transmitted three months after the deadline ended.

DAS was implemented in four phases, beginning with metro cities in Phase I, followed by 1 million+ cities in Phase II, the remaining urban areas in Phase III and the rest of India in Phase IV.

In the letter dated 12 June, the outgoing secretary Ajay Mittal said, “several complaints of carriage of analogue signals by the cable operators are still coming to the ministry”. He also lamented that the authorised officers are not sending compliance reports.

“These are being sent to the authorised officers of the districts for necessary action. Hardly any compliance reports are being received,” Mittal said in the letter.

He also pointed out that the ministry had sent a check list to the authorised officers on 25 April with the request to plan regular inspections and take prompt action against the defaulters.

In order to ensure that cable TV digitisation is complete and its benefits start accruing to all stakeholders, Mittal requested the chief secretaries to direct all DMs in their states to take action within their powers under Sec 11 against the defaulters.

He also requested that the MIB be allotted half an hour in any one of the meetings to be held by the chief secretary with DMs in the near future, to highlight their role/powers. He also urged the CS to get the issue monitored by senior officers like divisional commissioner, revenue secretary or IG police also.

In another letter dated 16 June addressed to the chief secretaries, Mittal requested the state governments to put in place a mechanism for granting right of way (RoW) to cable operators.

“As you are aware that for providing cable TV services, a cable operator is sometimes required to lay and establish cables and erect posts from time to time under, over, along, across, in or upon any immovable property ever vested in or under the control or management of a public authority.

“Thus, cable operators require permission of the public authority concerned, under whose control or management the immovable property is vested to (a) place and maintain underground cables or posts; and (b) to enter on the property, from time to time, in order to place, examine, repair, alter or remove such cables or posts, subject to the obligation of reinstatement or restoration of the property or payment of reinstatement or restoration charges in respect thereof at the option of the public authority.”

Section 4B (5) of the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 specifies that the central government may lay down appropriate guidelines to enable the state governments to put in place an appropriate mechanism for speedy clearance of requests from cable operators for laying cables or erecting posts on any property vested in, or under the control or management of, any public authority and for settlement of disputes, including refusal of permission by the public authority.

The MIB, Mittal noted, had prepared guidelines to enable the state governments to put in place an appropriate mechanism for speedy clearance of requests from cable operators for grant of RoW.

“I request you to develop and issue an appropriate mechanism for speedy clearance of requests from cable operators based on the guidelines sent herewith,” the letter added.

As per the Cable TV Act, the public authority will have to grant permission for RoW to cable operators within a period not exceeding 60 days from the date of receipt of the application made by cable operators, subject to the provisions of the Act and the rules, or reject the application for reasons to be recorded in writing.