MCOF asks government relief for last-mile cable operators

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Maharashtra Cable Operators Foundation (MCOF) has written a letter to the union minister of information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar proposing its for long-term relief and transformation of the last-mile cable operators.
Arvind Prabhoo
MCOF president Arvind Prabhoo stated in the letter, “Like all other businesses, we too are impacted adversely due to lockdown and economic slowdown. In fact, the impact on us is more severe, since our services including broadband have been classified, and as essential services have to be kept operational. Though we are sure that everyone knows the costs and risks of this, the financial squeeze out of failure to collect our legitimate dues may not be known to many.” He also mentioned that they are expecting a reduction of spend on both services for a couple of forthcoming quarters and a need to restructure the business that involves two sets of much stronger players: broadcasters and MSOs.   Important excerpts are noted below: 
  • The basic service tier of 200 channels priced at Rs 130 has been requested to be exempted from GST
  • LCOs  to be registered with the MIB and accorded recognition as a class distinct from MSO with role-specific duties and rights
  • LCOs be treated at par with telcos and allocated part of USOF grants for their Internet-related projects
  • The fibre networks belonging to LCOS be evaluated and accorded HCPA (Horizontal Connectivity Provider Agency) status for e-governance and telecom expansion purposes.
  • Future-oriented training modules be designed and imparted to cable network executives under the National Skilling Mission.  
 MCOF’s letter to IBF  Recently, Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) also wrote a letter to Javadekar seeking an economic relief and rehabilitation package. While IBF has made 18 requests, MCOF has also urged specific benefits for the last-mile operators. “It is very unfortunate that the media business has grown without interactions, leaving aside integration across the value chain. Current business and resource emergencies provide all of us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rectify all past mistakes and redraw roadmaps for mutual benefits. It is with these views and a sincere desire to ensure not only survival but also growth for all that we are writing this letter to you,” Prabhoo mentioned. He also said that they believe in the power of the media, there is a considerable possibility of most of the 18 point charter of propositions being accepted. “We write as the players from the most critical last-mile deliveries which are no less important than the content itself. We do hope that IBF has not taken “I, me, and myself” approach but has considered the needs of the entire value chain,” added he.  Prabhoo noted that are suffering no less than broadcasters and also rendering services at high costs and risks. Hence, the association has asked to know specific benefits that they may expect which would enable them to keep the services flowing.  “We need not impress upon you the fact that without roots no tree can survive and all benefits you may extract would become infructuous if the 60 per cent+ market serviced by LCOS disappears. We have held back submitting our requests cum demands to minimise conflicts and cut short response time for the authorities,” the letter added.  MCOF is yet to get a response from the MIB and IBF.