February 2019


2019 commenced on an extremely turbulent note.

LCOs countrywide protested vehemently against the TRAI's order to allocate only 45% of the NCF to them. They have explained to the regulator that the amount is inadequate to sustain operations. Besides a 1-day cable blackout in South India, there were protests countrywide. Tata Sky is also contesting TRAI's New Tariff Order in the Delhi High Court. Hopefully a verdict will be declared in February. Will TRAI be forced to implement the 15% bouquet discount cap?

The Zee companies and Dish TV came under the public gaze when their stock prices crashed more than 30% (almost R 14,000 crores market capitalization) in a single day, led by the reports of a SFIO investigation for R 3,000 Crore cash deposits during demonetisation, by a company involved in DishTV's merger transaction with Videocon d2h. SCaT had already carried this story, weeks earlier, in our January issue. Subhash Chandra issued a personal open letter, which was both candid and heart-warming. He blamed 'Negative Forces' for beating his stock prices down & called the Dish TV - Videocon d2h merger, 'a key error.'

The Supreme Court has upheld the authority of the Ministry Of Home Affairs to cancel DAS MSO licences on the grounds of 'National Security'. However, the Apex Court has examined the specific case before passing its verdict. Hence each case will have to be reviewed by the courts before the MHA is permitted to cancel specific DAS licences.

As an industry, we can only hope that the MIB will resume issuing new DAS MSO licences. With more than 100 such licences applications have been pending for more than a year & CATV digitisation has effectively been stalled for almost 2 years.

The DOT has shelved its plans for compulsory testing of all CATV and telecom equipment, prior to their import. The necessary infrastructure & processes for such a large initiative were just not in place & would have created chaos.