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Take-a-break brigade to be cut to size
- Committee to set limits on advertising time per hour on pay channels

New Delhi, March 9: Couch potatoes, help is at hand if you are irritated by advertisements that pop up all too often.

A move is afoot to specify the maximum permissible advertising time per hour on pay channels. This was one of the terms of reference spelt out by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for the committee formed last month to work on the format for regulation of cable television services.

The Trai secretary will be the chairman of this committee, which holds its first meeting tomorrow. The body will examine and suggest norms to fix rates (or ceiling rates) for cable subscribers, cable operators and multi-system operators for individual pay channels, bouquets and distribution of free-to-air channels.

It will also suggest regulations regarding rates for cable operators, including periodicity of change in monthly cable charges. The committee will decide on the principles of laying down limits on bundling of pay channels to ensure viewers have a genuine choice.

The committee will also formulate the terms and conditions under which set-top boxes may be made available (sale or rental) to a subscriber. It will suggest the conditions under which consumers may return set-top boxes sold or rented to them by service providers and seek a refund.

Implications of gradual and voluntary introduction of set-top boxes will be examined and the committee will suggest other measures to ensure that the conditional access system does not lead to exploitation of the consumer by monopoly distribution channels.

Trai held a meeting last month with the state governments of Delhi Maharashtra, Bengal and Tamil Nadu to discuss matters relating to cable services and other problems faced by the state governments in implementing CAS.

It was after this meeting that the telecom regulator decided to establish a special committee of representatives of these state governments and its own officials which would work on various issues relating to cable television and provide inputs to the authority to finalise regulations.

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