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|November 24, 1998||
The government is evaluating a proposal to modify the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, in order to frame guidelines and laws pertaining to those Internet service providers who would operate through a cable television network.
The government recently opened the ISP business for private participation. Since then several companies have been carrying out feasibility studies. It is only a matter of time before the industry starts pressing the government for a clear-cut legislation on such technologies that run across sectors like computing, telecommunications and entertainment.
The government has already outlined the basic guidelines for ISPs that intend to set up their own Internet gateways. But large television cable operators and other multi-system operators would like to see the government work out a more detailed framework for them in such a way that all grey areas are addressed.
The information and broadcasting ministry has set up a special team to look into the modalities of amending the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, so that it takes into account those ISPs that plan to offer Internet services through cable television infrastructure.
"When the Act was conceived, the use of cable for providing Internet services was not taken into account. Since many of the these operators are in an advanced stage of development of their projects, it is felt that such changes in the Act would give the right kind of signal to the consumers in general and the industry in particular. A formal announcement on this is expected very soon," ministry sources have been quoted as saying.
It is being estimated that once the Act is amended a combined turnover of over Rs 20 billion could be generated from the existing cable operators that could lead to the creation of information superhighways around the country.
In turn, this would enable subscribers to avail of advanced multimedia services at reasonable costs as opposed to the present rates that are higher than international levels.
According to industry estimates, about 40 per cent of the existing 15 million cable and satellite households in India would opt for such Internet services when offered.
In a related move, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications has suggested that the cable network business should be protected from the potential threat of satellite broadcasters that may turn predators and begin a large downward integration exercise.
PSCC has resolved to ask the government to enact the Broadcast Bill as soon as possible in such a way that the ground cable networks are not monopolised by satellite broadcasters in any manner.
The committee has reportedly authorised its chairman, Somnath Chatterjee, to urge the prime minister to take immediate steps to enact the Broadcast Bill, ensuring that existing cable networks do not suffer because of big satellite broadcasters.
A senior member from the Cable Network Association, one of the apex bodies of the industry, maintains that the electronic media is on the verge of being taken over by multinationals and media barons.
Incidentally, CNA had sent a representation to the prime minister sometime back, urging him to enact the Broadcast Bill in such a way that the formation of a powerful vertically integrated media cartel is averted in the greater interests of the nation.
- Compiled from the Indian media
- Compiled from the Indian media
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