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Broadcasters not excited with likely compulsion to go DTH

02-August-2004
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Broadcasters not excited with likely compulsion to go DTH

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has announced intentions to formulate the policy of interoperability, wherein all channels would be required to be present on DTH platform. While for the channels, which already have DTH platform, this might be good news, players like STAR India and Sony are not very excited.

“There is nothing formed on this yet,” says Peter Mukerjea, CEO, STAR India, “There are no guidelines in place as of now and it is more or less in a speculation state. However, looking at the possibility of a situation where all channels have to be present on the DTH platform means a compulsion.”

Explaining further, he adds, “In any market, forcing a law or compelling players to be part of a platform is not right. This is like saying, ‘you have to rent your apartment to someone.’ This is not encouraging for any practice.”

Kunal Dasgupta, CEO, SET India echoes, “This is against the free enterprise of doing business. DTH players should get their business from channels. If a DTH player desperately wants a channel, he will work out a deal with that channel. What is the whole point of making anything compulsory?”

Dasgupta believes that when such policy is in place, it would give an unfair advantage to channels which have DTH platforms. How would Sony react when the policy is in place in a month’s time? He replies, “We need to first understand what laws are we breaking? Can they arrest us for this? What is the consequence and let’s see how the policy shapes and then we’ll decide on what will we do and how.”

As for STAR India, a solace for the network perhaps lies in the fact that STAR would soon become a DTH player itself. Nonetheless, until it’s available on the DTH space, how would it react to this interoperability policy? “We at STAR India, have always followed the laws of the land and we will continue to do so,” replies Mukerjea.

The scene would keep changing till the time the final shape of policy comes into place. After the CAS debacle, there would be definitive attempts to do things right as far as DTH is concerned.

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