ABTA presented a minimum agenda at the third meeting of the Social Communication Council?s working group on a new model for the pay-television industry. The industry association sees the agenda as a starting-point for the discussion of a new model.
Alexandre Annenberg, ABTA?s executive director, said the idea was to answer the questions put by the Council to the industry representatives invited to take part in the working group.
Here are the highlights of the agenda presented by ABTA:
* Basic programming packages ? packages targeting low-income consumers should be exempt from taxes and contributions so as to facilitate penetration in this segment. Laws, regulation and tax agreements should be introduced, defining a basic package and reducing or waiving taxes such as ICMS, ISS, PIS, Cofins etc. The document doesn?t refer to the tax reform currently before Congress or to the pay-TV industry?s participation in discussions about how the reform will affect telecommunications overall.
* Municipal land use taxes ? action should be taken to stop city governments from levying these taxes, which could completely undermine the profitability of cable TV. ABTA suggests litigation, support for a bill to amend the Constitution (PEC 425), and specific legislation to prevent municipal interference in federally-regulated services.
* Review of ICMS sales tax ? pay TV shouldn?t be classified for tax purposes as a ?service open to public correspondence?, as telephone services are. So instead of ICMS (state-collected sales tax), it should be subject only to municipal service tax (ISS). This change requires the support of Confaz, the national council of state finance secretaries, and an amendment to the ISS legislation.
* Use of the FUST fund ? pay-TV companies contribute to the Telecoms Universalization Fund (FUST) but currently aren?t eligible to use it for investment projects. The legislation should be amended so that they are eligible. Otherwise they shouldn?t be removed required to contribute.
* Digital TV ? policies for the implementation of digital terrestrial broadcast television should include measures to encourage the use of pay-TV infrastructure so that the segment can act as the gateway to DTV. To this end the Communications Ministry should change the DTV policy guidelines already drafted to replace the preceding Government?s policy but not yet approved by the Office of the Presidential Chief of Staff.
* Digital set-tops ? support for local development of a dual-purpose modular digital set-top (for broadcast and pay TV). Policies on this should be formulated by the Communications and Development & Industry Ministries. ABTA also recommends amending the legislation on information technology to regulate investment in R&D (previously called Basic Production Process, PPB).
* Network sharing ? incentives are needed to make this happen. The Cable Act and Anatel?s regulations should be amended to include the concept of a ?single public network?.
* Must-carry ? reciprocity is required in this area, so that pay-TV distributors can be compensated for the introduction of additional must-carry clauses. The Cable Act should be amended for this purpose.
* Unfair competition ? telephone and other companies with multimedia licenses (SCM) must not be allowed to offer PPV, VOD or NVOD. This requires changes in the SCM rules.
* Rental of utility poles ? ABTA wants to see ?fair and reasonable? pricing for the use of third-party infrastructure. This requires amendments to include calculation formulas in the joint regulations issued by Anatel, ANEEL and ANP (Regulamento Conjunto 001/00).