TRAI extends deadline for submitting comments on entry level net worth requirement for MSOs CP

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has extended the deadline for receiving comments on consultation paper ‘Entry Level Net Worth requirement of Multi-system Operators in Cable TV services’ till 15th May.

The authority had fixed 8th May as the last day for receiving comments and 15th May for receiving counter comments on the consultation paper. The deadline was extended as the stakeholders had sought an extension of time for sending their comments.

“In view of this, it has been decided to extend the last date for submission of written comments up to 15th May 2019 and counter comments by 22nd May 2019. No further request for an extension would be entertained,” TRAI said in a release.

The authority had issued the consultation paper on the entry-level net-worth requirement of MSOs in Cable TV services on 9th April 2019.

The ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) vide letter dated 16th May had sought recommendations of TRAI on the appropriate levels for fixation of entry-level net-worth of the MSOs for operationalising cable TV digitisation across the country.

The objective of the consultation paper is to deliberate whether there is a need to fix entry level net worth for MSO? if yes, what should be the value of the net worth required at the time of registration for MSO? Further, the paper seeks the comments regarding the documents and method to assess the net worth of an applicant if minimum value is prescribed.

Presently, the MIB specifies the minimum entry level net worth requirement for broadcasters and Head-end In The Sky (HITS) operators. For MSOs, the guidelines do not specify any minimum net worth requirement or an entry fee at the time of award of registration. Only a processing fee of the amount of one lakh rupees is the only fee that an MSO is required to pay.

With the introduction of digital addressable system (DAS), the government amended the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 by issuing Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules, 2012 on 28th April 2012, according to which an MSO operating in DAS areas is also required to take necessary permission from MIB in addition to registration as a cable operator.

The TRAI had stated that there are 1471 registered MSOs and more than 60000 local cable operators (LCOs). However, not all registered MSOs are operational at present. Based on MIB data, at present, there are 1143 operational MSOs.

It had also noted that the number of operational MSOs out of the total registrations has also increased from 2012 to 2018. However, there has also been an increase in the number of non-operational MSOs over these years.

Further, the percentage of non-operational MSO remained more than 20% for this period and it stood at 22.3% in 2018, indicating the fact that a sizeable number of registered MSOs may not have sustained in the industry owing to stiff competition or other external factors.