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Cable Technology Feature Article

December 19, 2011

Parliament Passes Digital Cable TV Bill

By Monica Gleberman, Contributing Writer

India's Parliament recently finalized a bill allowing for digital cable television. The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2011, was already passed by Lok Sabha and was finally adopted today through Rajya Sabha’s voice vote.

“The legislation will regulate cable operators and digitalize the analog TV network across the country in a phased manner by the end of 2014…it also gives the government the right to cancel licenses of cable operators who flout rules,” said Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.

Soni said the regulation should be completed by 2014. “The measure aims at regulating cable operators and digitalizing the analog TV networks across the country in a phased manner by December 31, 2014,”said Soni.

The bill will also give the government the right to cancel licenses of cable operators who go against its rules. Soni said the legislation isn’t done fighting and will continue to strive towards getting more TRP’s among channels to gain more advertisements. “TRP is a bane of the TV programs as it leads to showing of obscene materials and superstition. This bill will address this issue,” said Soni.

TRP, short for Television Rating Points, refers to when an audience is given a certain criteria and indicates the popularity of a television channel or program. The TRP measure is very useful to advertisers, who use it to help them decide which TV channels and programs to place their advertisements in.

Opposition members, who were in support of the legislation, expressed concerns and anger over the content of various broadcasters, alleging that the programs can sometimes be considered provocative and vulgar.

Other concerns regarding the price to setup the television boxes and where they would be manufactured was also of concern to some citizens.

Soni said she is in talks with her ministry. “The prices of the set-top boxes will fall. These will be available on installments and rent. Also viewers do not have to take a whole bouquet of channels. TRAI will impose a tariff capping for subscribing to channels,” she said.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin