TRAI recently released a consultation paper on the interconnection framework for broadcasting TV services distributed through addressable systems. The TRAI paper aims at providing a regulatory framework for interconnection which ensures a level playing field to all types of digital addressable systems. The consultation paper also discussed issues that came up to the notice of the Authority and plausible ways of dealing with those issues in respect of digital addressable systems.
TRAI has stated that service providers have to agree upon the technical and commercial arrangements in order to deliver efficient broadcasting TV services. Moreover, when it comes to cost effectiveness, licensing conditions and providing a better subscription fee, TRAI states that with the use of different distribution platforms and different topologies and technologies it is concerned as to how a level playing field among different service providers using different addressable systems can be ensured.
As per the existing regulatory framework for interconnection, a service provider should provide the signals in a reasonable time period but not exceeding 60 days from the date of the request. The reasons for any refusal must be recorded in writing and conveyed to the distributor within 60 days from the date of the request.
Presently, more than 50 pay TV broadcasters, around 700 MSOs, 6 DTH operators and 2 HITS operators are providing services through addressable systems. With the limited presence of IPTV operators, a large number of LCO’s sign agreements with either an MSO or HITS operator and almost every DPO distributes TV signals of every pay TV broadcaster. This creates challenges in logistics and monitoring. With the development of the information and communications sector these issues could be effectively addressed.
TRAI proposed that an online Interconnect Management System (IMS) can be developed and put in place in order to meet the issues of logistics and monitoring. The IMS may reduce barriers for new service providers and could help in the ease of doing business, while the security and proper functioning of the IMS would be in line with the regulatory framework.
TRAI has also asked its stakeholders if an IMS is needed and should signing of interconnection agreements be made mandatory or not.
Written comments on the consultation paper are invited from the stakeholders by June 3, 2016 and counter comments, if any, may be submitted by June 17, 2016.