India seeks to restructure cable TV industry

Entry fee, license fee, new tech proposed

MUMBAI -- The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has recommended a separate licensing framework for local cable operators and multi-system operators in its draft recommendations to restructure cable television services, released Tuesday.

India's cable television industry, which covered 78 million households at the end of 2007, is facing challenges of technology, resources and fragmented distribution, leading the regulator to examine possibilities of restructuring.

The draft recommendations include an entry fee for different areas of operations; a five-year license fee; and encourage advance transmission technology.

There is also fierce competition for existing conventional cable TV operators from those who use advance distribution technologies like direct-to-home, Head end in the sky and Internet Protocol TV, TRAI added.

Dish TV India and Tata Sky compete in India's DTH market, with mobile phone operators Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications also planning their entry over the next few months.

TRAI, which said the absence of licensing and regulatory framework could slow future development, also encourages a voluntary conditional access system which allows viewers to select pay channels.