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Help Cable TV industry seeks freedom from price controls
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The Indian pay television market should be freed from price regulations, a move that would help further accelerate the pace of digitisation in the industry, said the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA).

“The pay TV market, especially the digital cable segment, is constrained by price regulations, which does not encourage growth. Let the market decide the prices. Let the consumer decide what he wants to pay to view a set of channels,” said Mr Simon Twiston Davies, CEO, CASBAA, the apex industry association in the region.

Such a move would enable the industry invest further in necessary infrastructure to support growth and improve the quality of content Mr Davies said and added that “it would also provide a choice to consumers.”

Pricing of pay television is governed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, also the regulator for the broadcast industry. The pay television market, especially the Direct-to-Home (DTH) segment, has witnessed a phenomenal growth over the past two years with a subscriber base of 17 million as of March 2010.

Subscribers

The DTH industry expects to add about 10-12 million subscribers in the current fiscal.

Despite the strong growth, the DTH industry continues to be in the red as new subscriber addition continues to be highly subsidised.

Stating that the industry does not need protection anymore, Mr Davies said the size of the cable and satellite market with 95-100 million subscribers indicates that it is a mature business.

“TRAI should step aside and allow the industry players, investors and consumers to grow the industry,” he said. This does not mean that there is no more a role for the regulator, Mr Davies clarified.

“The regulators do have a role to support the industry,” he added.

Seeking a level playing field with other media, especially the print medium, Mr Davies said “there is no other sector in media where the Government is intruding into the market.”
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