The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India will soon float a consultation paper to examine various issues of cable operators and MSOs in the digital makeover mandated by the Centre for the cable home entertainment sector, TRAI Chairman J. S. Sarma said on Thursday.

Addressing presspersons on the sidelines of the third FICCI conclave on media and entertainment business, Mr. Sarma said that TRAI hoped the consultation paper expected to be put out in a couple of weeks would help resolve issues and dispel misgivings among stakeholders. “We hope to conclude the consultation process and arrive at some finality by February.” The government has issued an Ordinance and piloted in Parliament a Bill seeking changes in the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act that would make digitally addressable systems mandatory for the cable entertainment sector by December 31, 2014.

Under proposed timelines, cable television is to be completely digitised in four metros by March 31, 2012 followed up the analog-to-digital migration in cities with a population of over 10 lakh.

The government proposes to phase out analog in the entire country by the end of 2014.

The TRAI chairman said that cable operators and MSOs had raised some concerns, especially regarding end-user tariffs, and these would be addressed through consultation.

For instance, while the Supreme Court had fixed the offer price at 42 per cent of the non-CAS rates the MSOs had doubts on whether they could follow suit if a broadcaster raised tariff. Moreover, the 42 per cent price point would cease to be a reference point post-2014, when analog transmission is phased out.

The lack of symmetry in the tax structures across States is also one of the important concerns of the sector, he said.

Holding the move to digitisation to be irrevocable, Mr. Sarma said that it was essential to adjust to “what is going to come.”

The new telecom policy proposed by the Department of Telecommunications is likely to be out by early next year, he said.

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