MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) granted a total of 193 MSO licences in 42 days running through 20 April.
Tamil Nadu government-owned Arasu Cable TV Corporation was also granted provisional licence with the condition that they digitise their network within three months. Further, the registration is subject to the MIB taking a final decision of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) recommendations on the entry of government in TV broadcasting.
The ministry, which used to issue permanent and provisional separately for multi-system operators (MSOs), issued only one list for all registered MSOs this time. The provisional list only includes the name of Arasu.
The number of registered MSOs in India stands at 1375, as on 20 April.
The month of March alone saw the grant of a record 145 licences. The deadline for Phase IV of digital addressable system (DAS) was 31 March. The ministry granted 48 licences in April even after the deadline for last and final phase of DAS had ended.
A majority of licences were granted in the state of Andhra Pradesh with 39 companies getting approval. At 23, Maharashtra had the second-highest number of licences, followed by Odisha at 21.
The MIB granted 17 licences in Madhya Pradesh and 16 in Gujarat.
Nineteen licences were granted in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Eight licences were granted in UP while five were issued in Rajasthan. Six licences were issued in Telangana and Tamil Nadu each.
Delhi, Kerala, Jharkhand and West Bengal saw three licences each being issued. In Karnataka, the ministry issued eight licences.
Among the notables that received MSO licences include Asianet Broadband, Hathway Rajesh Multichannel, Hathway CCN Multinet, Hathway CBN Multinet, GTPL Chelikam Network India, GTPL Vision Services and GTPL Rajwadi Network.
As per an MIB order dated 27 January 2017, all registered MSOs, unless indicated in registration area specifically, can operate anywhere in India.
In the new list of MSO licences granted by the MIB, the biggest development undoubtedly was Arasu getting provisional licence after a waiting period of five years. The DAS licence was awarded to Arasu on 17 April. This is the first time that the DAS licence has been provided to a state government agency, Arasu said.
TRAI had in December 2012 reiterated its earlier opinion that government or government-owned entities should not be allowed to enter the business of broadcasting or distribution of television channels.
It had also recommended that, if the central government had already accorded permission to any state government or its entity to enter the cable distribution platform, then it should provide an appropriate exit route.
Click here for March list
Click here for April list