Trai, for the uninitiated, had recommended a national plan for digitisation of cable services from April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2010. The plan, which would coincide with the holding of the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in 2010, said that digital cable services should be introduced in all cities/urban centres with a population of over one million. It also spoke of licensing the cable industry and rationalisation of import and domestic duties by April 1, 2006.
According to media analysts, the finance minister's move to rationalise excise and customs duties will pave the way for a level-playing field for both manufacturers of domestic and imported set-top-boxes. "Earlier," says a senior media analyst with a Top Ten agency, "Domestic set-top-box manufacturers had to pay an 8-15 per cent customs duty on components imported by them. This obviously increased the cost of production, and thereby, the final price of the boxes. Now, both domestic and imported set-top-boxes will be competitively priced.