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Parliamentary Committee asks government for Act to regulate cable TV

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications and Information Technology asked the central government to initiate in a comprehensive Act for regulating the industry and creating a level playing field for all broadcasting services, as per reports.

The panel made the recommendations while expressing concerns over a continuing decline in cable TV subscribers. In its 56th report on ‘Regulation of Cable Television in India’, submitted in both Houses of the Parliament, the standing committee told the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) that the Cable TV industry needs to be regulated through a comprehensive Act, the reports further revealed.

“As submitted by MIB, there is an urgent need for creating a level playing field for all broadcasting services as well as for addressing the need for satellite-based technologies, which are being regulated through the old legislation. The Committee believes the Cable TV industry needs to be regulated through a comprehensive Act and therefore it recommends the ministry to ensure that the proposed ‘Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023’ sees the light of the day at the earliest since it will go a long way in resolving the concerns of this industry,” the parliamentary panel said.

The committee has recommended that all aspects concerning the cable industry must be taken into consideration while bringing in the comprehensive bill.

According to the panel, one of the biggest concerns of the cable TV industry has been pricing of channels by broadcasters and the negative impact on the cable tv industry.

Peeush Mahajan, President AIDCF, said: “We are extremely thankful to the Honorary Parliament Committee on Communications and Information Technology for their detailed examination on the issues plaguing the Cable TV Industry. The Committee has correctly observed that the Cable TV industry has been seeing a steady decline and is struggling for its survival, majorly due to the drastic increase in prices of pay TV channels (in some cases as high as 600%) by the Broadcasters in the last 4-5 years. Coupled with the price hikes, the broadcasters have also forced bundling of their channels on the consumers which has effectively robbed them of the freedom of choice.

“Consumers have been forced to opt for bouquets of channels which have a few popular channels bundled with channels which are not as popular and not relevant to the specific market. We urge the honourable TRAI to bring in a holistic consultation and resolve the issues as recognised by the Parliamentary Committee at the earliest and to ensure the survival of the lakhs of people employed in the sector.”

The committee observed that the main concern within the purview of Cable TV Regulations is about the prevalent practice of broadcasters implementing substantial discounts in the pricing of bouquets while maintaining elevated individual prices for a-la-carte channels. StoryBoard18

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