New Delhi: The Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Saturday notified the much awaited Cable Television Networks Rules, 2012, paving the way for digitalisation of the sector. Officials said the I&B Ministry has set June 30 as the date for digitalisation of the cable sector in the four Metros and these cable rules would provide the framework on which the digitalised cable networks would provide services.

As per the new rules cable operators and Multi Sector Operators (MSOs) will now have to ensure that they have the capacity to carry minimum number of channels as specified by the Telcom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

TRAI is expected in the coming days to specify the minimum number of channels that each cable operator and MSO will have to show as per the cable rules issued on Saturday.

"This provision is just one of the consumer friendly provisions in the rules because it will ensure that every consumer gets a minimum variety of TV channels through the cable," said an official.

Officials said that another consumer friendly clause that the rules include is that MSOs will have to buy back set top boxes from their subscribers if the customer happens to be moving out of the area.

In case a cable viewer is not happy with the quality of service, a provision to surrender the STB back to the MSO and the cable operator have been provided in the new rules.

With the government's digitalisation drive, customers are required to install STBs on their TV sets, but the new cable rules mean that customers will not be stuck with STBs in case he wants to change his service provider.

Cable operators and MSOs will have to set up a grievance redressal mechanism and subscribers can file complaints and get time-bound redressal if they are not satisfied with service quality, the cable rules state.

The new Cable rules notified today also redefine the procedures for Multi Sector Operators (MSOs) who will have to submit a processing fee of Rs One lakh for registration in an entity in place of Rs 10,000 as was the case earlier.

However, officials said there was no change in fee for registering as a Local Cable operator.

MSOs will now have to register with the Central Government while Local Cable Operators, like previously, need to be registered with Head Post office within whose territorial jurisdiction, their office lies.

Under the new rules a provision of provisional registration to avoid delays in giving clearances to MSOs and LCOs has also been added.

The rules state that whenever an application has been made under the relevant rules, the registering authority may grant provisional registration after preliminary scrutiny of such applications.

Under the new rules, the application procedure for cable operators has also been reworked, sources said.

"After the notification of the Cable Rules, it is the tariff rates for Channels, that TRAI is expected to release soon, which will mark important steps towards Digitalisation of the cable sector," said a senior official.

(Agencies)