TRAI Issues Consultation Paper On Monopoly, Competition In Cable TV Sector
The telecom regulator has issued a consultation paper on cable TV services in the country, for which it has sought views from various stakeholders.
The paper, released on Oct. 25, seeks views on monopoly, market dominance and competition in the sector, as the government has said recommendations issued by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India eight years ago need to be reviewed given the changes in the media and entertainment sector.
In November 2013, TRAI had issued its recommendations on monopoly or market dominance in cable TV services after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting sought to bring in reasonable restrictions on multi-system operators and local cable operators as cable TV distribution was monopolised in some states.
Since then, the sector has changed drastically, particularly with the advent of new digital technologies. As a result, the ministry asked the regulator to provide a fresh set of recommendations in the matter.
“The M&E sector grew from Rs 1.03 lakh crore in 2014 to Rs 1.38 lakh crore in 2020,” the consultation paper stated. “The multiple platforms have also ensured a competitive market leading to affordability. At an average price of around $5.5, Indian consumer pays around 20 to 25% as compared to a TV consumer in U.K., U.S., Thailand or Malaysia.”
An estimated 18.41 crore households are being served by the cable TV services, Direct-To-Home services, Headend in the Sky services, Internet Protocol television services in addition to a terrestrial TV network of Doordarshan as on March 2021, the paper said. The pay TV universe comprises around 7.33 crore cable TV subscribers and 7.09 crore active DTH subscribers, while DD free-to-air dish and terrestrial services has 3.8 crore subscribers.
The MSOs have grown consistently in recent years even as their businesses aren’t uniform across the country. While states like Delhi, Karnataka, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Maharashtra have many MSOs, in others like like Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Orissa, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, the market is dominated by one or two players.
Cable TV providers have of late started providing offerings like broadband services. And internet service providers are bundling subscription-based video streaming to lure new subscribers.
The government said it wants to examine the subject of monopoly in cable services, keeping all alternative options in consideration.
There are 25 issues raised in the consultation paper. Some of them include:
Assessment of competition level in the sector.
Need to regulate monopoly.
Methods of measuring level of competition or market share.
Evaluating the impact of new technological developments and alternate services like video streaming services.