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Prepaid cable TV subscription to be proposed

Measures to smooth the introduction of mandatory digital cable TV are set to be announced by the Indian regulator, including a prepaid subscription model, itemised computer-generated billing, helpline numbers, and up to 100 free to air channels in basic packages.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommendations, expected this week, will also include a transparent revenue-sharing formula for multi system operators (MSOs) and local cable operators (LCOs), according to the Financial Express.

Digital addressable systems (DAS) for India's 110 million cable television homes are being introduced nationwide between now and the end of 2014. The first phase will see cable networks in the metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai digitised by 30 June 2012.

The telecommunications model whereby subscribers can pay monthly subscription charges, buy pre-paid scratch cards, and pay securely online, has been largely supported by service operators in India keen to improve on the current leaky cable subscription revenue collection.

Billing and subscription collection is likely to be transferred from LCOs to MSOs under the TRAI measures, according to the Financial Express, along with a six monthly official subscriber audit.

With DAS, consumers will each have to have a set top box to access the encrypted television channels, helping to eradicate signal piracy, which has long been a problem in India. Digitisation will also bring consumers an improvement in channel choice, image quality, broadband access, and value added services.

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