The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has decided to set up a separate Register of Interconnect Agreements (Broadcasting and Cable Services) for registering any interconnect agreements between broadcasters and the cable service providers.
The regulator had earlier said that while processing cases of registration of the Interconnect Agreements, on the broadcasting and cable services side had found that the standard forms vary from group to group and between Multi-system operators (MSOs)/broadcasters depending upon the nature and type of arrangements.
Besides the volume in terms of number of agreements expected to be registered is also likely to be very large if the MSOs/broadcasters were to submit agreements individually.
Also the industry felt that information regarding the number of subscribers, subscription rate, number and details of channels and discounts schemes are commercially sensitive and therefore should be kept confidential.
As per the new regulations, broadcasters will have to present updated reports of their agreements on a quarterly basis, instead of monthly as stipulated earlier.
The new regulation spares MSOs from filing interconnect agreements with TRAI.
In fact, as per TRAI's October recommendations to the Government on issues related to broadcasting and distribution of TV channles, agreements between an MSO and a cable operator should be registered with an authorised officer.
It may be noted that earlier all interconnect agreements in the broadcasting and cable sector were covered within the ambit of 'The Register of Interconnect Agreement Regulation 1999', which pertained to telecom services.