MoIC instructs cable operators to migrate to digital platform
KATHMANDU, Jan 4: The government on Friday instructed cable operators to immediately move to digital platform for transmission purpose, citing the upgradation will improve quality of service, enable regulator to track and monitor activities, and introduce transparency in the system.
Once the upgradation is complete, audio and visual quality of television programs will significantly improve, while consumers can subscribe to selected number of channels under the conditional access system (CAS).
The Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) - which from Friday stopped issuing licenses for operation of analogue cable TV business - has said analogue cable operators can upgrade their transmission format using the existing license.
Cable operators can upgrade the signal by securing a head-end cable on their own or by acquiring it on lease from other operators, a new provision introduced through sixth amendment of the National Broadcasting Act says. Head-end cable is a master facility of receiving television signals for processing and distribution.
The latest government instruction comes around a month after the MoIC formally started extending licenses to operate digital cable TV business. Such license can be obtained by paying a fee of Rs 12.50 million, with annual renewal fee fixed at 10 percent of the license fee.
The new provision also allows existing cable TV operators to start digital transmission by paying royalty of Rs 25,000 per channel. "This is the first time we are introducing two-layer licensing system under which licensee can be distributor or transmitter and both," MoIC Under Secretary Anup Nepal said.
Likewise, operators that want to establish its own head-end will have to pay Rs 125,000 per channel, while those leasing from others will be slapped a fee of Rs 25,000 per channel.
The government has already announced to phase out analogue format in cable TV operation by 2015 in urban areas and by 2017 in rural areas. "Those who fail to migrate within deadline will see their licenses scrapped, while those who upgrade the systems on time will enjoy certain benefits," Nepal said.
The government is pushing cable TV operators to move to digital platform as the new system allows it to track illegal operations and effectively collect royalty, fixed at two percent of the revenue collected from subscribers.
According to MoIC officials, majority of the operators are evading royalty payment as the existing mechanism is not transparent.
"Once the digital system is introduced we can easily track the number of subscribers and collect revenue based on it," he said.