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Cable warns govt on 'errant' IPTV players

Ashish Sinha  |  New Delhi 

The cable industry has asked the government to quickly address the policy issues related to the Internet Protocol TV (IPTV). Otherwise, over 3,000 unauthorised television channels, which include pornography, will enter Indian homes without any control from the government.
Currently, the operation of IPTV is largely unregulated, leading to a tussle between the telecom operators and the cable industry over the inclusion of Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) under the Unified Access Service Licence (UASL) agreement as opposed to the Cable Television Networks (regulation) Act, 1995.
According to the existing Cable TV Act, only channels which have the permission to downlink (downloading channels from the satellite for further transmission) are allowed to transmit on cable and the direct-to-home (DTH) platform.
If IPTV is kept outside the purview of cable Act, IPTV operators will get access to thousands of unauthorised television channels offered on the Internet, said the cable industry's representation made to Asha Swarup, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B).
IPTV offers consumers digital quality television (voice, data and video) through telephone lines instead of the usual cable wires. Currently, only telecom operators like Bharti, Reliance and MTNL have the license to operate IPTV services.
The cable industry in its letter has said that keeping IPTV outside the ambit of Cable TV Act will open doors to over 3,000 unauthorised television channels including adult and pornographic content currently offered on international websites like WWiTV, Beeline TV, and Channel King making a mockery of all existing norms and regulation.
"This will dilute all existing governments' norms including downlinking guidelines and foreign direct investment (FDI) caps thereby harming the cable industry adversely," the letter written by MSO Alliance-cable industry association of multi-system operators said.
The cable industry's representation has come in the wake of the formation of inter-ministerial committee to include IPTV services under the UASL agreement.
Also, IPTV outside the ambit of cable laws will lead to IPTV service provider creating or producing content without adhering to the 26 per cent foreign direct investment cap.
"This would results in creating disadvantageous position to the existing channels vis-à-vis IPTV service provider with regard to foreign direct investment limits," explained A Mohan of MSO Alliance, a conglomeration of multi-system operators representing the cable industry.

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First Published: Fri, August 03 2007. 00:00 IST