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IBF approaches TRAI’s tariff order with an open mind

03-May-2012
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IBF approaches TRAI’s tariff order with an open mind

The News Broadcasters Association (NBA), in its press statement on May 1, 2012, stated that it is “shocked” and “dismayed” with Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) tariff order for the Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems (DAS) that in effect “legitimised carriage fees”. The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) met on the subject on May 2, 2012 and further discussed the subject.

While the IBF had not issued any statement on the outcome of the meeting till the time of filing the report, it is understood that on a broad note, IBF members see TRAI’s move as ‘positive’. The thought is that even as there are some aspects of the regulation that need clarity, TRAI’s move, on the whole, is a step forward.

While there are some areas of concern including carriage fee, which were highlighted by the NBA in its appeal, the tariff order is expected to benefit the industry.

Some industry observers explained that carriage fee is a ground reality in the Indian broadcasting domain and that TRAI has taken cognisance of this and framed a regulation that would address the matter head-on rather than dodge it. TRAI’s regulation stated: “Legalising carriage fees, TRAI has proposed that every MSO can fix the carriage fee per channel. This fee would be applicable in a uniform manner across all broadcasters and would need to be disclosed in a transparent manner. The carriage fee cannot be revised upward for a minimum of two years. Further, TRAI has reserved the right to interfere if the carriage fee is unreasonable.”

However, there are some points of the regulation that would need explanation before they could be executed to the benefit of the industry.

One of the mentioned points was that when the element of negotiation was involved, how does TRAI ascertain that ‘must carry, must provide’ clause would be executed. Another point was to ensure all carriage fees were declared and that there would be transparency in the system. exchange4media could not independently confirm this information but sources close to the development cited these as some of the points that IBF sought clarity on.

The IBF is expected to issue a press statement on the subject on May 3, 2012.

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