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The cable tangle - free ride?

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It might sound like a trivial crib to many of you, but the freedom with which Cable TV operators ride on City's infrastructure conveys something to us. It might be a ignorable case of lax enforcement, and umpteen such small small things add up to promote the feeling that anyone can do anything with city's walls, pavements, poles, roads etc etc.

The cable TV folks, rather, the Spidermen of Bengaluru. use anything they can to grow their web – trees, abandoned poles, rusting vehicles, tall fences. Try spot things that stand but can’t complain and you will notice more of their weaving.

But why exactly is their weaving ignored? Is it legal - they use city agencies poles on almost all major roads. do they pay any money to BA/BBMP/BESCOM for using their infrastructure? Most likely not. Then why wouldn't you just cut their cob-web off?

I would suspect that this free ride on infrastructure is one reason Cable TV stays price competitive wrt DTH. I would really like to know how these Cable operators are regulated, and how much is our city charging them for such uncontrolled usage of public/air space.


silkboard's picture

cable - service quality, regulations?

166 users have liked.

Haven't searched around yet for what sort of control and regulations exist for cable TV providers, but do you think the arrival of DTH has freed us from the monopolistic hold the cable folks had on consumers?

Cable is considerably cheaper than DTH in most places, and this "free" use of public infrastructure is one reason why.

Further, when you get a new connection, there are unreasonable (because the amount varies seems to vary based on who comes to ask for it) non-refundable "connection" charges.

Not to talk about getting a proper bill with provider's TIN, haven't see one myself so far.

And then you have sometimes reported, most of the times not incidents of cable rivalry - one provider digs up other provider's network and vice versa in overlapping areas of service. For sure, there would have been incidents like this (cable operator murdered in Pune) as well in Bangalore that have gone un-noticed.

silkboard's picture

Some stats

171 users have liked.

About 20 days ago, business standard covered this subject, and had 2 key stats there.

  • 134 million TV homes in our country
  • 80 million are estimated to be cable homes.

Now, if you assume Rs 200 per month as average across these 80 million or 8 crore cable homes, we are talking 150 x 12 x 8 crores of business per year. That's about 20000 crores.

Going by the taxes these cable guys pay, I have read stats elsewhere that they only report about one third of this revenue.

Cheating on taxes, and riding on public infrastructure for free, nice business this cable thing is.

n's picture

Not all bed of roses for them

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Not all bed of roses for them - the physical cable (or copper+insulation) charges are high, they have to pay channel charges, people tap w/o paying money, take multiple connections by paying for one, may be deal with theft of cables etc.
But, I agree - there doesn't seem to be a right-of-way rent that they pay utilities or the city govt.  One of those things that is probably not regulated.  Recently there was talk of regulating the larger-size cell towers. BBMP probably has powers to pass legislation to keep city beautiful (similar to hoarding limitations).

silkboard's picture

some action from BBMP to make money from this

138 users have liked.

So finally, the free ride for cable/fibre operators may come to an end. BBMP has determined that these guys need to be charged. However, the charges will be applied only after framing rules.

The petitioner companies had questioned the decision of BBMP to impose a fee of Rs 300 per metre of optical fibre cable (OFC) laid and also to impose Rs 900 per metre (300% of the fee) as penalty wherein the OFCs were laid without obtaining permission.

BTW, back in August, BBMP had forecasted income of Rs 780 Crores from this new source.

A new policy is in the pipe line to bring optical fibre business into BBMP tax net and about Rs 780 crore a year is expected to be collected from optical fibre cables.

This news item is from August 2012. So two months on, we do have some action on this front. Not bad for an agency that is known more for inaction than anything else.

Naveen's picture

Set-top boxes may solve problem

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The "free-ride" for cable TV operators may eventually become history with the central govt making it mandatory to install set-top boxes.

According to this report, only 20% of the potential revenue was received by TRAI in 2010 since cable operators were declaring far fewer customers than actual. comment guidelines

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