Cable networks are a recent phenomenon in India when compared to video and Television. It started in India in 1984, patronized first by tourist hotels.
Cable television offers its subscribers a large number of special-interest channels as well as signals of local area, and superstation channels, with special-interest and “Superstation channels imparted by satellite.
The cable channels are linked to a centrally located VCP through cables. Cable networks with dish antennae became widely prevalent after July, 1991.
Cable TV is different from television as it is capable of greater decentralized programming thereby offering greater scope for narrow- casting or programming for a well-defined, within a boundary audience.
In cable TV, programmes are ‘piped’ to viewer’s sets from an ideally placed common antennae, instead of each viewer individually receiving signals from his/her private antennae (Kumar, 1989).
It has the advantage of improved reception from local transmitters and offers the possibility of relaying services from distant and foreign transmitters beyond the reach of domestic antennae. Thus, ‘ it provides the subscriber with access to multiple channels.
Cable networks fall under the purview of the Indian Telegraph Act 1985, which lays down no restrictions except for requiring a license when cables are to be laid across public property.
Now a days, many housing societies or multi-storeyed buildings are connected with a central control room from where video players transmit taped programmes.
Though, it does not present as wide and personal a selection of programme content as video, it does offer similar programming at less cost.
Cable TV operators do originate some programmes of their own related to local events, such as celebration of festivals. They also carry local advertisements.
Cable TV brings variety of national and international channels to the cable linked households.
The survey concluded by Audience Research Unit of Doordarshan in May 1992, covering 10 big cities of the country such as star TV and BBC are yet to build up their audience becuse these programmes are in English and their accent is not easily followed by even English knowing people.
Due to the quick growth of cable TV, Doordarshan’s advertising revenue affected advertisers as turned to satellite channels as their rates were lower. As a result, Doordarshan launched metro and other regional language channels which are available all over the country through satellite. This again attracted the advertisers.
With the phenomenal growth of satellite and cable television in India, the cable Television Network (Regulations) Bill was introduced in 1993 so as to regulate the operation of cable television networks in the country.
The number of cable operators and the households having cable connection has been steadily increasing along with the number of channels and types of programmes.
This resulted in to educated masses, feeling concerned about the impact of cable TV on familial, social and cultural life of the people.
Vardan Committee was appointed by the Government of India in 1991 to study the relevance of cable TV invasion. The committee observed some disturbing implications of this development.
The committee pointed out that no country can sit back passively and let some foreign agency decide what kind of programmes should be broadcast to the people of the country. At the same time, it is neither desirable nor feasible to stop these transmissions or ban their reception.
The committee also recommended arrangements to be made under which the programmes put out by the licences are continuously monitored to ensure that prescribed guidelines are not violated.
It suggested that a single statutory/ autonomous body known as the broadcasting council of India envisaged under the Prasar Bharati Bill be assigned the task of laying down guidelines and monitoring the quality of programmes, find out warnings and suggest punitive action in cases of violation of the guidelines, etc.
The Government of India subsequently introduced legislation in the parliament in August, 1993. The Bill provides for a registering authority, takes resources to the programme code and the advertisement code, to be framed under the Act.
It has also been made mandatory for the cable operator to transmit at least one Doordarshan channel of his choice through the cable serial.
However, it has been felt that the thrust of the proposed legislation is towards making it a tool for regulation rather than providing an approach to develop cable television as a social and economic resource.
In India the victim of instant communication has been Doordarshan. Satellite transmission not only made communication easy and instant but also brought in competition. Now days, DD is making strenuous efforts to improve image.